Kikuchi, Seager, Mariners beat Yankees, avoid 4-game sweep
NEW YORK (AP) — Yusei Kikuchi and the Seattle bullpen combined on a six-hitter, Kyle Seager doubled to break a scoreless tie in the eighth inning and the Mariners avoided a four-game sweep, beating the New York Yankees 2-0 Sunday.
The Yankees had won five in a row. They lost for only the third time in 13 games, ending a tightly contested series between playoff contenders.
“I thought their bullpen did a really good job of shutting us down,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I actually thought against Kikuchi we had a lot of really good at-bats. We made it tough on him all day, smoked a lot of balls.”
New York rookie starter Luis Gil pitched two-hit ball for five scoreless innings, striking out eight. In his big league debut Tuesday against Baltimore, he threw six shutout innings, allowing four hits and fanning six. He was sent back to Triple-A after facing Seattle.
Kikuchi and Mariners relievers Casey Sadler, Paul Sewald (7-3) and Drew Steckenrider combined to strike out 12.
Kikuchi did not allow a run for the third this season after allowing five runs in five innings against New York July 7 in Seattle.
“I think all it came down to was execution, especially with runners on base,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter. “My last outing against the Yankees with runners on base, I wasn’t able to execute my pitches location-wise but today, I feel like I was able to have good command with all my pitches and execute the way I wanted to.”
Kikuchi, who carried a no-hitter into the sixth in his previous appearance in New York in May 2019, allowed four hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three while keeping the Yankees off-balance at times with a deceptive delivery that featured a slight hesitation.
On Sunday, the left-hander constantly pitched with runners on in the first four inning. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third by striking out Luke Voit and Seattle’s pitching held the Yankees hitless in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“The quality stuff was really good today, really from the outset,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “The Yankees are going to grind you; they don’t chase a lot.”
Abraham Toro opened the Seattle eighth against Lucas Luetge (4-2) by reaching on a fielding error by third baseman Rougned Odor. After Mitch Haniger walked, Seager hit a double that bounced beyond right fielder Aaron Judge’s reach and into the seats for a double.
After Seager’s hit, Servais was ejected by plate umpire Lance Barrett for arguing a called strike three on rookie Jarred Kelenic, who was also tossed.
Cal Raleigh followed with a single to left that originally scored two runs. After the Yankees challenged the call, Seager was ruled out at the plate following a replay review.
The Mariners finished 4-6 on a 10-game trip. Eight games on the trip were decided by no more than two runs and each of the four games in New York was decided in the sixth inning or later.
“It was definitely a long road trip, a tough one, too,” Seager said. “We certainly didn’t win as many games as we hoped to but I think everybody’s pretty excited to go home.”
Sewald got four of his five outs on strikeouts. He allowed Joey Gallo’s go-ahead three-run homer in Thursday night’s series opener.
Sewald entered with two on in the sixth and fanned pinch-hitter Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu. He also struck out Judge and Gallo in the seventh.
“He actually flipped the momentum in my opinion,” Servais said of Sewald.
Steckenrider pitched two innings for his fourth save in seven chances. He allowed an infield hit to Gardner and fanned Judge to end the nearly four-hour game.
Mariners: SS J.P. Crawford (illness) was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game and entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth.
Yankees: 3B Gio Urshela (strained left hamstring) took defensive drills, ran the bases and could be activated from the 10-day injured list when eligible on Wednesday. … RHP Luis Severino (recovery from Tommy John surgery, Grade 2 groin strain) was slated for a rehab game later Sunday at Double-A Somerset. … SS Gleyber Torres (right thumb) will get an MRI. He was injured on a stolen base in the fourth but Boone said his condition worsened as the game went on.
Mariners: RHP Logan Gilbert (5-3, 4.14 ERA) opens a three-game series against Texas on Tuesday. Seattle had won 11 straight games started by Gilbert before Wednesday in Tampa Bay.
Yankees: RHP Jameson Taillon (7-4, 4.04), who is 6-0 with a 2.35 ERA in his last nine starts, opens a three-game series in Kansas City on Monday.
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Yankees: RHP Jameson Taillon (7-4, 4.04), who is 6-0 with a 2.35