08/17/2002 9:04 pm ET
Franklin wins one in defeat
Mariners starter keeps Yanks' Williams from hit record
By Jim Street / MLB.com
gvSEATTLE -- The outcome of the game Saturday afternoon wasn't what Mariners right-hander Ryan Franklin had in mind. But at least he kept Bernie Williams from tying or breaking a Major League record that has been in the books for 64 years.
Williams' opposite-field single in the first inning of the New York Yankees' eventual 8-3 victory before another sellout crowd (46,174) at SAFECO Field put him on the threshold of a record 12 consecutive base hits.
The counting stopped at 11 when Franklin induced Williams to ground out to third base to end the third inning. Williams had to be satisfied with becoming the only Yankee in history to go 11-for-11.
Franklin was pleased that the streak ended when it did, although he would have preferred getting Williams out in the first inning when he had two outs and the Yankees had one runner on base.
"I thought I pitched him well [in the first inning]," Franklin said. "He fouled off some tough pitches. I threw him some good splits and he just tipped one [on a 2-and-2 count]. I threw him another split, which was up a little. He didn't hit it hard, but it went through."
Neither third baseman Jeff Cirillo nor shortstop Carlos Guillen had a play on the ball and Robin Ventura followed with a single that put New York ahead to stay.
"I don't want to say he was lucky because he's such a great hitter," Franklin said, "but if that ball is a couple of feet either way, it might have been an out."
That out had to wait a couple of innings. After starting out Williams with an inside fastball, Franklin came back with another one and jammed the switch-hitter, batting left against the right-hander. This time, the ball took two hops to Cirillo, and, for the first time since last Wednesday night in Kansas City, Williams failed to reach base in one of his at-bats.
"He had a good streak going and I'm sorry I had to end it," Franklin said. "But I didn't want my name associated with something like that."
Franklin lasted five innings and absorbed the loss. But he didn't lose his spot in the rotation.
"It could have been better, but we're going to leave him in the rotation," manager Lou Piniella said. "I think he is going to get better over his next few more starts and hopefully his next one will be better."
Franklin threw 80 pitches and said he was displeased with just "three or four" of them.
"I thought I had good stuff. I made some good pitches, but made one bad one to [Jorge] Posada. The pitch to [John] Vander Wal was down."
Actually, both pitches ended way up -- in the right field seats -- in the Yankees' four-run fourth inning that essentially put New York starter Mike Mussina (15-6) in the driver's seat. The veteran right-hander cruised through the first five innings and surrendered just five hits in seven innings.
Ichiro Suzuki had two of them in his Major League regular-season debut as a center fielder.
Suzuki is a temporary replacement in center for Mike Cameron, who got Saturday off and most likely will get Sunday's series finale off as well. There is no specific timetable, but Piniella said one of the reasons he put Ichiro in center and not Mark McLemore was because, "Ichiro might be out there for a little bit."
Franklin kept giving the Yankees balls that were hit to center field.
"I wanted to see how he could play out there," Franklin said. "He did real well."
Ichiro made seven putouts and almost had an assist, making a strong but late throw trying to nail Vander Wal at third base in the ninth inning.
It was the first time Ichiro has played center field since his days with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan. He played left field in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series last season in New York.
"Center field is a very interesting position for me," he said through his interpreter. "I have more area to cover. It didn't feel strange, but the view is different."
He had only one real difficult play, running into the left field gap to chase down a ball hit by Williams leading off the eighth inning. Ichiro and left fielder Ruben Sierra converged on the ball, but neither could make a play. Williams ended up with a double.
Ichiro suggested that there was a slight communications breakdown between the two fielders, something that will have to be worked on the more he plays the position. The center fielder usually takes everything he can reach.
Right now, the Mariners are reaching for something positive.
They have lost two straight to the Yankees and been outscored 17-6 in the process. Seattle hasn't had a lead so far.
When a writer mentioned that the Mariners "seemed flat" the past two days, Piniella said, "Flat? We have had the [stuffing] beat out of us. What do you mean flat? We need to go out tomorrow, get a good pitching performance from our starter [Joel Pineiro] and score some runs.
"It starts with good pitching. Our starting pitching in this series hasn't been good. We have been behind early and that makes it a little tougher for a team like ours."
Jim Street covers the Mariners for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.