Four errors cost Mariners vs. Yanks
Bedard finds rhythm, but offense can't make up for miscues
NEW YORK -- The Mariners played a game of two-on-nine against the Yankees on Friday night, and it wasn't nearly enough to prevent a third straight loss on this four-game-old road trip, leaving manager John McLaren at a loss for words.Left-hander Erik Bedard was superb, surrendering three runs (one earned) in seven innings. Center fielder Ichiro Suzuki did his part to ignite a stagnant offense with two singles, three stolen bases and a run scored. He was about all the offense the Mariners could generate on another frigid night, as they dropped a 5-1 decision in front of 52,199 at Yankee Stadium. For the first time anyone could remember, McLaren did not talk to the media afterward. But what could he have talked about that hasn't already been discussed almost daily this season? The Mariners' offense lacks production. Another quality start, the club's 16th of the season, was wasted. And what could he have said about the defense, which committed four errors and moved into next to last place in the American League this season with 24? The defenders closest to Bedard did him the most harm. Three-fourths of the Mariners' infield committed errors, and all three miscues were instrumental in the latest Seattle setback. At least first baseman Richie Sexson played flawless defense. A fourth miscue -- catcher Jamie Burke dropped a popup in foul territory -- did not figure in the scoring, but the damage had already been done, as Seattle (13-17) lost its third straight on this road trip and dropped a season-high four games under .500. The four errors matched the number of miscues committed by Seattle on April 5 against the Orioles, which, at the time, were the most since the Mariners made four errors in a game against the White Sox on Sept. 4, 2004. If it isn't one thing, it's something else for the struggling Mariners, who are playing nowhere close to what they anticipated while their starting pitching continues to be better than expected. Asked afterward if running rampant on the basepaths was something he sensed he needed to do to light a fire for the Mariners' offense, Ichiro said, "I don't know about that. Today it was really cold and I was trying to warm up." As for what it will take for his teammates to warm up and whether he is concerned about the lack of production from the Mariners' hitters, Ichiro said, "That's not my job. The job of that is other people who are in charge of looking at problems in the big picture. We need to take care of what we, as individuals, can do. "If others are trying to do too much instead of taking care of themselves, it will result in big problems." Well, the Mariners are still having big problems -- especially on offense. Four Yankees pitchers stymied the Mariners on four well-spaced hits in the series opener, two of them by Ichiro. Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt singled with one out in the third inning and Raul Ibanez doubled leading off the fourth, but he was stranded at second. Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang pitched the first six innings and picked up his sixth win of the season. "He comes after you with his fastball and has a great sinker," Burke said. "He pitches on both sides of the plate and then comes in with a slider. It's 94 [mph] coming right into the [strike] zone, and the next thing you know, it's at the bottom of the zone. That's the first time I have faced him, and I can see why he does such a good job." Without the defensive lapses, Bedard and Wang might still be duking it out. "Erik threw the ball well and battled with them," Burke said. "He went out there and did what he could do." Bedard (2-1, 1.82 ERA) retired the final 14 batters he faced and didn't allow a hit after Melky Cabrera's two-run double to left field in the second inning. Two of the three runs Bedard allowed were unearned. "That's what you have to do, especially against a guy like Erik Bedard, who has been very tough," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You're not going to get a ton of opportunities against that guy when he's on his game. He's got really good stuff, and we took advantage." The first tainted run came in the first inning, when, with one out, Betancourt nonchalantly attempted to backhand a grounder hit by Derek Jeter. The ball rolled under Betancourt's his glove and into left field. Jeter went to second on Bobby Abreu's single to left field and scored when Hideki Matsui dumped a two-out single to left between Betancourt and Ibanez. The faulty fielding continued in the second inning, when Gold Glove Award-winning third baseman Adrian Beltre mishandled Morgan Ensberg's routine grounder. Making matters worse, Bedard struck out Jose Molina, and Burke's throw to second was in plenty of time to nail Ensberg and complete a double play, but second baseman Jose Lopez dropped the ball, making Ensberg safe. Yankees second baseman Alberto Gonzalez then singled to center field, and Cabrera pulled a Bedard pitch down the left-field line for his double. The Mariners had a chance to get a run in the fourth inning, when Ibanez led off with a double, but he never budged, as Beltre, whose job was to move Ibanez to third base at least, grounded out to third base. Designated hitter Jeff Clement, who walked in the second inning, struck out, and Sexson bounced out to third.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.