Seattle's Wash burns Yankees

August 25th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Seattle's Wash burns Yankees

SEATTLE - Randy Johnson was the last man off the field at the end of the eighth inning last night. Even Bobby Abreu, who had to run all the way in from right field, passed by him on the way to the Yankees dugout, as the Big Unit moved slowly toward the bench.

It was as if Johnson didn't want to leave. He had pitched well against his former team - he was the only pitcher the Yanks used - but it simply wasn't good enough. The Bombers' hitters were stifled by Jarrod Washburn and the Mariners beat the Yanks, 4-2, to take the rubber game of a three-game set at Safeco Field after the Bombers swept five games at Fenway Park.
The defeat snapped Johnson's personal three-game winning streak and, combined with Boston's 2-1 win in Anaheim, cut the Yanks' AL East lead over the Red Sox to 5-1/2 games. The Unit allowed four runs and seven hits over his eight innings and was bitten by a three-run third; it was the second time this year that Johnson pitched a complete game and lost (the other was a 3-2 loss to the Angels on April 8).
"I just got outpitched," Johnson said. "(Washburn) looked like - Randy Johnson. The only thing that was missing was the Kingdome roof out here."
Alex Rodriguez made the final out of the game when he struck out as a pinch-hitter for Nick Green. A-Rod was out of the starting lineup for the second straight night with a virus and he looked slightly weak and uncomfortable at the plate as he faced closer J.J. Putz with boos raining down from fans who used to cheer for him.
Rodriguez's teammates didn't look much better against Washburn for much of the game. The former Angel ran his record to 4-3 with a 2.59 ERA in eight career starts against the Yankees, and three relievers took it the rest of the way, with Putz earning his 26th save.
The Yankees pulled within two in the seventh on Johnny Damon's solo homer. It might have been a two-run shot, too, if not for a stunning catch by Ichiro Suzuki just before it. Green had blasted a line drive that seemed destined for the center field wall only to see Ichiro lope back to the warning track and extend his whole body to reach up and snag the ball.
The crowd of 44,634 cheered the magnificent play before quickly becoming quiet when Damon hit his first-pitch shot off Washburn. That ended the lefthander's night - he allowed two runs and six hits in 6-1/3 innings, striking out a season-high nine and walking two.
"Washburn is very aggressive," Joe Torre said. "He's not going to beat himself. He gets in a little rhythm, and then he can really do some things."
Johnson lasted longer than Washburn, but had a significantly less-rewarding outing. The Big Unit pitched for the Mariners from 1989-98, when he was traded to Houston at midseason. Since leaving, he'd allowed only 11 hits in 16 scoreless innings during two previous starts here.
The Mariners struck quickly against him last night. Ichiro led off the bottom of the first with a double that sailed over Damon in center. He moved to third on Willie Bloomquist's flyout and scored the game's first run on Jose Lopez's single.
The Yanks tied the game in the third with three singles. Craig Wilson led off with the first one and Damon moved him to third with another that went deep into right field. Derek Jeter promptly delivered the final hit of the trio, a slap right up the middle that brought Wilson home and gave the Yankee captain his 77th RBI of the season.
Unfortunately for the Yanks, their rally in the following inning was snuffed out when Robinson Cano got caught sleeping at first base. Washburn seemed to be on the ropes after hitting Jorge Posada and watching Cano smack a single to put runners on first and second with nobody out, but Melky Cabrera whiffed and then catcher Kenji Johjima unleashed a bullet pickoff throw that nailed Cano. Washburn then loaded the bases, and Cano's blunder proved key as Damon lined out to left to end the inning.
"Robby getting picked off was very tough," Torre said. "We were trying to put the pressure on Washburn, but that took the air out of our balloon."
The Bombers could have used a run then, too, since the Mariners had touched Johnson for three in the third. Chris Snelling hit a leadoff double and Bloomquist's half-swing roller down the first-base line stopped on the chalk to put runners on the corners with one out. Lopez again came through with a RBI single and Richie Sexson followed with a two-run double to left-center. "There's always something," Johnson said. "Today it was the third inning. Essentially, that was the ballgame."

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