Two weekends ago, the New York Yankees sustained three losses at Fenway Park to the Boston Red Sox that prompted many people outside of their clubhouse to believe the season was over.
Since the rough weekend against the Red Sox, the Yankees are surging while showing a penchant to win close games.
After three close wins over the Seattle Mariners, the Yankees go for the four-game sweep Sunday afternoon when the American League wild-card contenders conclude their weekend series in New York.
The Yankees are 10-2 since squandering a four-run lead in the series finale at Boston on July 25. Other than two blowout wins over the Baltimore Orioles earlier this week, New York has won eight games by two runs or fewer, including the first three against the Mariners.
“All year we’ve been saying stay the course, stay the course and keep playing our game, keep playing our game,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said. “We (knew) things would turn around. I just don’t think anybody outside of our room really believed it.”
The Yankees are in position for their first four-game sweep of Seattle in any location after rallying for a 5-4 win Saturday. New York scored four times in the sixth and plated the tiebreaking run when Kyle Higashioka scored on a double play grounder by Anthony Rizzo as DJ LeMahieu stayed in a rundown long enough for the run to score.
“We’re playing for a lot, and everyone is keenly aware of that,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We show up. It’s about us. It’s about us trying to figure out a way to get a win.”
The Mariners would like to figure out how to get a win in the finale of a 10-game road trip. They are 3-6 on the trek and each loss is by two runs or less, including three walk-off losses.
On Saturday, Kyle Seager hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Seattle scored twice in the second but after the quick start, the Mariners did little offensively, and two defensive miscues led to their fourth straight loss.
Right fielder Mitch Haniger misplayed a fly ball by pinch hitter Gleyber Torres for a three-base error, and first baseman Ty France hesitated on Rizzo’s grounder allowing the go-ahead run to score.
“With this group it’s been a long trip, three-city trip, four-game series at the end in this environment,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “It’s got its challenges, but our guys will be ready to go tomorrow just like they were today, hopefully pick up a game here and then head back home.”
The Mariners might be without leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford for the second straight game. Crawford missed Saturday’s game with an illness, and it’s unknown if he will play Sunday.
Yusei Kikuchi (7-6, 3.89 ERA), who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his previous start in New York on May 8, 2019, starts for Seattle. Kikuchi is 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees. On July 7, he allowed five runs in five innings of a 5-4 loss in Seattle.
Kikuchi last pitched on Tuesday in Tampa Bay when he allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits in six innings of a 4-2 win. He came into Tuesday’s start with 7.71 ERA in his previous four outings.
New York rookie Luis Gil (1-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his second career start and hopes it goes as well as his debut. On Tuesday, he started when Gerrit Cole landed on the COVID-19 injured list and allowed four hits in six scoreless innings of a 13-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Gil’s debut marked the seventh time in team history a pitcher tossed at least six scoreless innings in a major league debut. Before Tuesday, Sam Militello on Aug. 9, 1992 was the last Yankee to pitch seven scoreless innings in a major league debut.
–Field Level Media