Knocking phenom out early isn’t enough for Yanks

The Yankees went against the grain Friday night at Seattle in not falling under the spell of a pitcher that they had not faced before. In recent years, the Yankees’ unfamiliarity with a pitcher had been their Achilles heel. That was not the case this time, although they did not exactly batter Michael Pineda about.

In fact, Pineda was his own worst enemy in this start, his shortest of the season, in which he left after five innings. The Yankees got to the 6-foot-7 righthander from the Dominican Republic right away on Mark Teixeira’s 14th home run with two out in the first inning that ended a string of 14 scoreless innings by Pineda.

The Yankees had only two other hits off Pineda, who walked five batters, a season high, and threw a very costly wild pitch. Pineda was also aided by his center fielder, Franklin Gutierrez, who robbed Nick Swisher of a home run in the fourth inning with a wall-climbing catch after a long run.

Pineda’s damaging wild pitch came in the fifth. He pitched himself into a fix after two were out by walking Curtis Granderson and giving up a single to right by Teixeira that sent Granderson to third base.

Pineda had been successful against Alex Rodriguez pounding him with mid-90-mph fastballs but spun a slider that A-Rod swung at and missed. Catcher Miguel Olivo missed it, too, allowing Granderson to score and Teixeira to take second. It proved additionally beneficial to the Yankees when Rodriguez singled to center to increase their lead to 3-0.

By pushing Pineda’s pitch count to 96, the Yankees were successful in prompting the rookie’s departure after the fifth. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they were not successful in holding that lead.

The Mariners went ahead by scoring two runs apiece in the fifth and sixth without an RBI hit in either inning. A.J. Burnett also came out after five innings with five walks but was in place for his first winning decision on the road since July 28 last year at Cleveland when he left the game with the score 3-2.

Seattle had runners on second and third after a single by Brendan Ryan and a double by Ichiro Suzuki. They both scored on infield outs. Something similar happened in the sixth after Adam Kennedy singled off Boone Logan and Olivo singled off Luis Ayala, who then walked Carlos Peguero to load the bases with none out. One run scored on a fielder’s choice by Ryan and the second on a groundout by Ichiro. The Mariners pulled in front despite going hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees weren’t much better in clutch situations. A-Rod’s single was their only hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. After driving Pineda from the game prematurely, the Yankees were held to two hits over four innings by three Seattle relievers and lost a runner at second base in the eighth inning when pinch runner Eduardo Nunez was picked off. Ouch!

The no-decision kept Burnett winless on the road in his past 10 regular-season starts away from Yankee Stadium. Over that stretch, A.J. is 0-5 with a 5.64 ERA. He is 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts on the road this season.

This was a tough loss for the Yankees, who coughed up a three-run lead on the eve of having to face 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, who was 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA against them last year. King Felix’s dominance against the Yankees was a prime factor in his winning the Cy Young Award despite a season record of 13-12. The Yanks wouldn’t mind making him pay for taking an honor that might have gone instead to CC Sabathia.

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