Mariners roll ‘7’ in the first inning

The only good thing the Yankees could say about the top of the first inning Wednesday night is that they still had 27 outs to try and get back into the game. Man, was that one ugly frame.

Many folks were still walking to the seats while the Mariners were running all around the bases on the way to a 7-0 lead that they gave to starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, the former Japanese Olympics and Pacific League star who has gotten off to a great start here in the U.S. (4-1, 1.74 ERA).

Yankees starter Phil Hughes could not get into a rhythm and was gone before the lengthy inning was over. Seven consecutive Seattle batters reached base at one point, four of whom scored on one swing, a familiar swing at that, by Raul Ibanez, who crushed a 0-1 fastball to right-center for his fifth home run of the season and second in this series. In his first five at-bats in his return to Yankee Stadium since last October’s postseason heroics, Ibanez has wounded his former team with two home runs and six RBI.

Hughes had no command of his breaking pitches and was forced to rely on his fastball, which the Seattle hitters knew was coming since nothing else was working for the righthander. A one-out walk to Dustin Ackley got the rally started and was followed by three singles that produced two runs and another walk before Ibanez lowered the boom.

Home runs tend to be rally killers, but not this time. Former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero joined Ibanez in haunting the Yankees with a single. After a fielder’s choice, Michael Saunders chased Hughes with a run-scoring double. Fans were none too kind to Hughes, whose ERA rose to 5.88, as he walked to the dugout. The fans’ attitude improved when reliever Preston Claiborne ended the inning with a strikeout.

This was a stunning development considering that the Mariners rank next to last in the American League in team batting average and runs scored. Seven runs are often the most they can score in a whole series let alone one inning.

It was also a wild start in a major-league debut of David Adams, the starting third baseman who was called up by the Yankees from Scranton. Chris Nelson was optioned to the Triple A affiliate to make room on the 25-man roster for Adams, who turned 26 Wednesday. That’s some birthday present.

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