SEATTLE — The Yankees offense Wednesday night hardly resembled the unit that scored 10 runs in each of the first two games of this series, with hard-throwing Mariners righthander George Kirby having plenty to do with that.
Fortunately for the Yankees, Clarke Schmidt hardly resembled the pitcher he was much of the first two months of the year, the righthander throwing 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings.
But his efforts, and more terrific work from what has been the best bullpen in the Majors, were wasted.
On a night neither club had many scoring opportunities, the Mariners pushed one across at last in the 10th, with Cal Raleigh’s RBI single off Ron Marinaccio sending the Yankees to a 1-0 walk-off loss in front of 24,596 at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park that kept them from sweeping the three-game series.
“We scored a bunch, obviously, the first two games, but that doesn’t take away from this team [the Mariners] as a whole can really pitch and Kirby’s one of those guys,” Aaron Boone said.
Pinch runner Jose Caballero started the bottom of the 10th at second and Raleigh, whose at-bat was delayed a couple of minutes as a presumably drunken fan ran onto the field and successfully eluded a handful of slow-ish security personnel, sent everyone home with a liner to rightfield.
The Yankees (34-24), who had 18 hits Monday night and 12 hits Tuesday, were held to 3 hits Wednesday. After an off-day Thursday, they start a three-game series against the Dodgers Friday night in Los Angeles. The Mariners (29-27) had 5 hits.
“Just couldn’t mount much against him,” Boone said of Kirby, the Rye, New York native who grew up a fan of the Yankees.
The rookie righthander, who allowed three hits and struck out seven over eight scoreless innings to drop his season ERA to 3.04, became the first New York-born pitcher to throw six-plus scoreless innings in his first start against the Yankees since Waite Hoyt did so for the Red Sox on Sept. 8, 1919.
“He was really kind of working the edges with the fastball,” said Kyle Higashioka, who had one of the hits off Kirby. “He’s got two good heaters and he was playing them off each other pretty well. We just couldn’t put enough good swings on him in a row.”
The Yankees best scoring chance came in the 10th against righthander Justin Topa. Pinch runner Oswaldo Cabrera started the 10th inning at second and went to third when shortstop J.P. Crawford booted DJ LeMahieu’s grounder for an error.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa fouled out and Jake Bauers walked to load the bases for Anthony Volpe.
The rookie, who hit a three-run homer Tuesday night but has otherwise been in a prolonged slump, hit into a 5-2 force, which brought Franchy Cordero, pinch hitting for Higashioka, to the plate. The outfielder, likely to be optioned when Giancarlo Stanton comes off the IL — which could be this weekend — struck out swinging.
Schmidt, who came in 2-5 with a 5.58 ERA but entered the day having allowed two runs or fewer in two straight starts, allowed just three hits and a walk in an 84-pitch outing in which he struck out seven.
The bullpen, with the best ERA in the Majors (2.99), got scoreless appearances from Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes before Marinaccio (2-2) gave up the game-winner on a 2-and-2 changeup.
“Early on in the season when my back was against the wall, I never really doubted that the success was coming around the corner,” said Schmidt, who was especially pleased on this night with his cutter, a pitch he started in earnest trying to add to his repertoire this spring.
“I always had that confidence in my stuff and my abilities to get guys out. We made some adjustments and we’re continuing to learn and grow and mature as a starting pitcher.”