Yankees' Aaron Judge scores on a single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa...

Yankees' Aaron Judge scores on a single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Seattle. Credit: AP/Caean Couto

SEATTLE – It was Reggie Jackson who said: “As long as you have a bat in your hand, you can write the story.”

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who authored a fairly disappointing 2022 maiden season in pinstripes, is slowly changing the narrative in season No. 2.

Kiner-Falefa, primarily the shortstop last year but converted into a utility player this spring when it became apparent early in the spring the starting job at short would go to either Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza, has flourished in the role, forcing his way into virtual everyday-player status because of his work with the bat.

That continued Tuesday night as Kiner-Falefa collected four hits, including a two-run single that sparked a three-run first inning and helped lead the Yankees to a 10-2 victory over the Mariners in front of 26,846 at T-Mobile Park.

“You’ve got to hit to play,” Kiner-Falefa said afterward.

The 28-year-old certainly has done that of late.

Kiner-Falefa, who started Monday night’s 10-4 victory at short and contributed a key two-run double, started in left Tuesday and went 4-for-5 with four RBIs. That improved him to 13-for-34 (.382) in his last 11 games and gave him 10 RBIs in his last six games.

“I feel this is what I can do, this is what I expected to do,” said Kiner-Falefa, who hit .261 with four homers last season in 142 games (he already has three homers in 42 games this season). “I’ve worked my butt off to make adjustments.”

The Yankees (34-23), winners in 11 of their last 15 games, followed a season-high 18-hit effort Monday with 12 hits Tuesday, an output that included homers from Anthony Volpe, Greg Allen and — naturally — Aaron Judge.

Judge hit his American League-leading 18th homer, with three of those coming in this series. His homer in the seventh made it 8-2. 

“It’s a really good pitching staff over there and to come in here and swing the bats the way we have the first two nights … kind of carry-over from how we’ve been swinging I feel like the last couple of weeks,” Aaron Boone said. “But it’s no small feat to throw up 10 more runs against that quality of a pitching staff.”

Nestor Cortes, who entered the night 4-2 with a 5.30 ERA, including 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in his previous five starts, was good for the most part but still managed to last just five innings, having thrown 101 pitches. Cortes' lack of fastball command has cost him at times this year. But with a fastball that Boone characterized as “crispy” Tuesday night, Cortes allowed two runs, five hits and three walks.

“I thought it was pretty good,” Cortes said of the pitch, which helped him strike out six.

Mariners righty Logan Gilbert, 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA coming in, allowed seven runs (five earned), seven hits and a walk over four innings.

The Yankees, as they did Monday, scored first.  

Gleyber Torres led off with a single and Judge walked. After Willie Calhoun, who had two hits, flied to left, DJ LeMahieu bounced one to third, where Eugenio Suarez had a chance to start a double play. But Suarez fumbled the ball, the error loading the bases for Kiner-Falefa, who roped a two-run single to center for a 2-0 lead. Kiner-Falefa is 9-for-25 (.360) with runners in scoring position this season (his two-run single in the ninth made it 10-2).

“He’s a great piece to this team,” Cortes said of Kiner-Falefa. “He knows what his role is and he accepts everything and he loves to be here. Whatever task you give him, I think he’s going to excel.”

Volpe’s ninth homer of the season, a three-run shot in the third, made it 6-0 and Allen’s first homer as a Yankee, a blast leading off the fourth, made it 7-0. The Mariners pulled within 7-2 in the fifth, but the outcome was never in doubt.

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