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Mike Ford hits two of Yanks' three homers in win over Mariners

Austin Romine, left, greets Mike Ford at home

Austin Romine, left, greets Mike Ford at home plate after the first of Ford's two home runs in the Yankees' win in Seattle Monday night. Credit: Getty Images / Lindsey Wasson

SEATTLE — They’re the dinger days of August for the Yankees.

The Yankees, having broken the calendar-month record for homers Sunday night against the Dodgers, added to their total Monday, blasting three more in a 5-4 victory over the Mariners in front of 23,030 at T-Mobile Park.

The Yankees (86-47), who got two home runs from suddenly red-hot rookie Mike Ford and one from the hot-most-of-the-season Gleyber Torres, upped their August total to 64. The previous record was 58.

Torres and Ford each homered in a four-run second inning off Tommy Milone. A blowout of the Mariners (56-76), who totaled four hits, seemed imminent. But the Yankees got just one more run, on another Ford homer, his eighth overall and third in two games.

J.A. Happ (11-8), coming off yet another subpar outing Wednesday in Oakland, allowed three runs, two hits and three walks over five innings Monday night. He struck out seven. 

All of the runs came on Dylan Moore’s three-run homer in the econd that got Seattle back in the game at 4-3.

Ford, signed as an undrafted free agent by the Yankees in 2013, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. The 27-year-old, whom the Mariners selected from the Yankees in the December 2017 Rule 5 Draft but returned him in March 2018, is 12-for-34 with five homers and nine RBIs in his last 12 games.

“I think the big thing is regular at-bats. It allows you to get locked in and stay locked in a little bit," Ford said. "I keep saying, I’ve always been confident. This league is really hard, but I’ve always been  confident in my ability to hit. That’s kind of what’s gotten me to this point. Can’t lose that edge.”

After Seattle “opener” Matt Wisler retired the Yankees in order in the first — and Happ did the same in the bottom half — the Yankees sent 10 to the plate against Milone (3-8) in the second.

Torres started the inning with a blast to center on a first-pitch fastball, giving him a team-high 33 homers. That tied Torres for the most homers hit by a middle infielder in Yankees’ history (Joe Gordon hit 33 in 1940). The 13 homers hit by Torres in August marked the most by a Yankee in the month of August since Mickey Mantle hit 13 in 1956.

Mike Tauchman worked a walk with one out and went to second on Gio Urshela’s groundout. Austin Romine, getting the start behind the plate for Sanchez (DH), lined an RBI single to left to make it 2-0. Ford, who homered and doubled after replacing Didi Gregorius in the three-hole the night before, then crushed a first-pitch fastball to right to make it 4-0.

Happ gave the Mariners life in the bottom half.

Tom Murphy singled with one out and Omar Narvaez walked. Happ struck out Jake Fraley looking but Moore hammered a 1-and-1 changeup to center, his seventh homer. It was the 32nd homer allowed by Happ in 26 starts this season, by far a career-high (the previous high was the 27 allowed last season).

“It was really one swing. There’s nobody more frustrated than me," Happ said. "But in order to stay sane I think I have to definitely take the positives here. I think overall it was a good outing.” 

Ford’s second blast of the night, a long homer to right, extended the Yanks' lead to 5-3 in the fourth.

Righthander Corey Gearrin, claimed off waivers last week from the Mariners, took over for Happ in the sixth and some controversy immediately followed. Austin Nola led off with a single and, after Kyle Seager took a strike, a long conference ensued on the mound as the Mariners complained about the slight toe-tap employed by Gearrin with his left foot on his delivery. After the mound conversation that lasted some five minutes and included two of the four umpires and manager Aaron Boone, play resumed and Gearrin was called for a balk. He walked Seager, struck out Tom Murphy and was removed in favor of lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. Gearrin, clearly irritated, slammed the rosin bag on the mound.

Gearrin's delivery caused a problem earlier this season in a game against the A’s in Seattle when he was with the Mariners. “They asked me to change my delivery," Gearrin said of the umpires Monday night. "The way they spelled it out to me was the toe-tap was illegal. The conversation back and forth was kind of I’ve already been through this earlier this year. I was told it was legal. So just have to get some kind of understanding. But as it was told to me early on this year, what I’m doing is totally fine.”

Gearrin, who said it was the first time he was ever called for a balk, was asked if the Mariners tipped off the umpires. “I don’t know. Convenient timing," he said. "An interesting time for it to happen.”   

Crew chief Sam Holbrook spoke to a pool reporter after the game. Plate umpire Manny Gonzalez called the balk.

“We felt he was resetting his foot with his delivery to the plate which they are not allowed to do," Holbrook said. "Before we called anything, Manny did a good job and sent the catcher out to give him a heads-up. So he wanted to call us out there so we went out there and spoke with him. Boone wound up coming out and we explained to him that what he was doing he couldn’t do. Once the runner was on first base he did it again and that is when Manny called the balk.’’

Cortes retired the last two batters of the inning and the first of the seventh before Mallex Smith ripped one to right, his sixth homer making it 5-4.

Tommy Kahnle pitched a perfect eighth and Aroldis Chapman did the same in the ninth for his 36th save. 

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