SEATTLE – The second-half Yankees continue to resemble the inconsistent outfit from the entirety of the 2021 season.
And they appear no closer to righting the ship.
After running their streak to a season-high 19 1/3 innings without a run, Kyle Higashioka and Aaron Judge each hit a seventh-inning homer – for Judge it was his MLB-leading 45th – to give the Yankees a two-run lead.
But a bullpen that hasn’t been close to the dominant unit it was the first three months of the season again imploded on Wednesday.
This time it was Albert Abreu helping to flush the lead, allowing a critical two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, the biggest blow in a brutal 4-3 loss to the Mariners in front of 43,280 at T-Mobile Park.
The Yankees (71-41), off Thursday before starting a three-game series in Boston Friday night, fell to 1-5 on this three-city, nine-game trip that began last weekend with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cardinals in St. Louis.
They still hold a comfortable lead in the American League East – 10 ½ games over the Blue Jays entering the day – but they continued to take on water and look like anything like a team prepping for a long October run.
Nestor Cortes was mostly terrific, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Sam Haggerty homered with one out in the frame to break a scoreless tie.
Robbie Ray, who allowed two runs and three hits over 6 1/3 innings, could not make the lead stand up. Isiah Kiner-Falefa walked with one out in the seventh and Higashioka crushed a full-count, 95-mph sinker, on Ray’s 115th and final pitch of the afternoon, to left-center. The homer, Higahioka’s seventh and first since homering off Mariners ace Luis Castillo Aug. 3 at the Stadium, made it 2-1. Righty Penn Murfee got DJ LeMahieu to fly out but served up a first-pitch slider that Judge rocketed over an electronic advertisement overhanging the bullpens in left-center to make it 3-1.
Cortes, and then Abreu, kept on over Ron Marinaccio because he is out of options and the latter is not, could not hold the lead.
Ty France led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and, with Mitch Haniger up, went to second on a passed ball. Haniger then drilled an RBI single to left to make it 3-2. In came Abreu, who struck out Eugenio Suarez swinging. But he left a 1-and-1 changeup over the middle of the plate to Carlos Santana, who blasted it to right-center for his 11th homer to make it 4-3.
Cortes allowed three runs and three hits over six innings in which he struck out 10. He walked one.