For the third consecutive game, the Yankees scored early and the Mariners never caught up. New York hammered Roenis Elias Thursday night en route to a 6-3 victory and three-game sweep of Seattle (34-32) in front of 40,546 at Safeco Field.
Elias previously defeated the Yankees May 1 with 10 strikeouts over seven innings against a similar lineup. This time New York got to him early and didn’t let him recover.
New York (34-31) jumped on Elias in the first inning for two runs on three hits, sending seven men to the plate. The big blow was a two-run homer off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury.
After the Mariners took one run back in the second, Elias was knocked around by the Yankees’ bats for four more runs on four hits in the next two innings. The young left-hander didn’t have his usual command and paid the price.
“He didn’t have command of his pitches tonight,” manager Lloyd McClendon said of Elias. “His changeup was cutting, fastball was erratic and he left some breaking balls up. It just wasn’t his night.”
Elias (5-5, 4.13 ERA) was lifted for Dominic Leone after 3.1 innings. He allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks. Not only was it his shortest outing of the season, but also the first time he failed to pitch at least five innings.
Yankees’ rookie right-hander Chase Whitley was strong in just his sixth career start Thursday. The 24-year-old allowed just seven runs in his last nine combined starts including Triple-A Scranton/Wilks-Barre.
Whitley (2-0, 2.41 ERA) pitched the deepest of his short career, 7.2 innings. He gave up two runs on five hits while striking out six and walking none. Seattle hit numerous hard balls off Whitley despite the paltry hit total.
In his second game back, Logan Morrison hit the first pitch from Whitley over the right field fence. The home run was Morrison’s first as a Mariner and cut New York’s lead to 2-1.
In the fifth, Brad Miller’s second hit was a one-out double to right. After Endy Chavez grounded out, James Jones hit an RBI single up the middle to make it 6-2. But further damage by was curtailed by another fantastic leaping catch at the wall by Jacoby Ellsbury. The catch robbed Robinson Cano of at least a double and ended the inning.
In the seventh, Mike Zunino was likewise robbed of extra bases by a leaping grab at the wall by Brett Gardner, while Stefen Romero missed a homer by a foot in the ninth.
In the ninth, Morrison added an RBI double to right off Yankees’ reliever Shawn Kelley to finish 2-for-4 with a double, homer and two RBI. Morrison had 20 at-bats in eight games before landing on the disabled list in mid-April. Healthy, Morrison is a needed force in the lineup.
Of Morrison, McClendon said: “He swung the bat pretty good tonight. I was very pleased. Hopefully he can get going. That would be a big lift for us.”
Meanwhile, Derek Jeter capped a stellar series with a superb night.
In his final stop in Seattle where his career began in 1995, the 39-year-old was 7-for-12 with four runs, two RBI and two walks. He was 3-for-4 with two RBI and a walk Thursday, but it was his bloop single over a drawn-in infield with runners on second and third in the fourth that amazed Zunino.
“That’s the only thing you don’t want to happen,” Zunino said of the Jeter’s bloop over the infield. “He’s a good enough hitter to ride it out and hit it to the right side and get it over the infield.”
Minus Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak, the Mariners seem to be floundering. The sweep was only the second this season. While the momentum of the recent 6-1 road trip has evaporated, McClendon isn’t worried about his team finding it again.
“It’s not the end of the world,” added McClendon of the sweep. “It’s a tough series. I just told my club, get ready for tomorrow. It’s tough, that’s baseball. That’s the way it happens sometimes. We’ve been there before, we know we can survive that.”
McClendon noted Saunders’ shoulder injury was simply a nagging issue, not major, and needed five to six days of rest. It is unlikely he will miss any time beyond the 15 required days . . . LHP James Paxton (lat, shoulder inflammation) played catch again Wednesday for seven minutes from 60 feet. He will continue playing catch through the weekend, extending the distance each time . . . With his first-inning single, Cano extended his hitting streak to 10 games . . . The Seattle bullpen tossed 5.2 scoreless innings, the seventh time doing so for five-plus innings this year.