The pressure of trying to overcome the problems of a team missing its biggest bats and strongest arms because of injuries finally seems to be getting to the Yankees. Even captain Derek Jeter was involved in a weird series of miscues and miscalculations in a 10-2 loss to Seattle Monday night at Yankee Stadium.
As if their own foibles weren't enough, the Yankees had to face longtime nemesis Felix Hernandez in the makeup of a game that was rained out April 30. Hernandez (8-1) wasn't as dominant as he usually is while visiting the Bronx, where he has a 6-2 record and 2.07 ERA in nine starts, but the eight hits he gave up in seven innings were matched by eight strikeouts and no walks.
Joe Girardi said he thought his team held its own against Hernandez but added, "We're not a club now that is hitting the ball out of the ballpark. We're not hitting a lot of doubles, either, so you've really got to put a lot of singles together."
In a game that was tied at 2 entering the seventh, the Yankees fell into an early 2-0 hole when David Phelps (1-3) gave up leadoff triples in the second and fourth to Kyle Seager, who scored each time.
The triple in the fourth was a blooper down the leftfield line. Brett Gardner tried to make a sliding catch, but the ball popped out of his glove. Jeter just missed plucking it out of the air, swiped at it after it hit the ground and continued with it toward the stands. He stood with his back to the plate and held the ball for a moment before becoming aware of the situation.
Phelps was caught on camera screaming for Jeter to throw it back. "I was just hoping he didn't toss it into the stands," he said. "I saw Seager going to third and was hoping he didn't get to the plate."
Gardner said he was hoping Jeter "didn't throw it to a 3-year-old," and with good reason. "It was an odd play," Jeter said. "I was running in foul territory. It never crossed my mind that it was fair. I almost gave it to a fan, but I heard Gardy."
Phelps got out of the inning with minimal damage, and the Yankees tied it in the bottom of the fourth. They produced five hits off Hernandez, starting with a one-out single by Brian McCann followed by a double by Yangervis Solarte. Ichiro Suzuki's two-out infield single off Hernandez's heel drove in both to make it 2-2. Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson followed with singles, but Ichiro overran third on Johnson's hit and was tagged out to end the inning.
Phelps was cruising before giving up a double to Mike Zunino and a walk to Dustin Ackley to begin the seventh. Phelps fielded Endy Chavez's sacrifice bunt but threw a split-second late to third, and Brad Miller ended his night with a two-run single.
Matt Thornton then gave up a two-run single to Michael Saunders that went cleanly under the glove of first baseman Johnson to break open the game.
The Mariners added four runs in the ninth against Alfredo Aceves on a solo homer by Saunders and a three-run shot by Seager, who also had a double during his four-hit night.
Asked how to jump-start the Yankees' dormant offense, Jeter said, "Don't face Felix. His ball was moving as much as I've seen it. We kept it close, but then they had the big inning."
Just as they did during his first trip back to the Bronx in April, Yankees fans took every opportunity to boo Robinson Cano, who left as a free agent. Cano went 1-for-3 with two walks and was picked off first. He knew what kind of reception to expect. "It's the fans,'' he said. "You can't control that. I'm not on the home team. It's out of my hands.''