Zunino leads Mariners past Yankees
NEW YORK — As the Seattle Mariners made their way toward Yankee Stadium on a six-hour cross-country flight, right-hander Chris Young could see how sick catcher Mike Zunino was.
Five hours before first pitch, Young received a text message that Zunino was ready to go.
Zunino certainly was ready, getting a career-high four hits and helping the Mariners to a 6-3 victory over the New York Yankees in rainy conditions Tuesday night.
“I watched him on the flight and he was just sick as a dog and to see him battling and come out today (was great),” Young said. “He sent me a text message at 2 this afternoon and said I’m going to be back there and ready to go for you big man and just his attitude, he’s a tough kid. He’s mature beyond his years and he’s really impressive.”
Zunino had three of his four singles against New York left-hander CC Sabathia (3-3), and his second hit turned out to be the spark for a four-run inning that changed the game in favor of the Mariners.
“I didn’t try to do too much, that’s the thing,” Zunino said. “Sometimes when you’re not feeling 100 percent, you don’t try and do too much and sometimes that’s the key to this game. I came out, I was feeling better today and told skip that I was ready to go and luckily I was able to square some balls up and not barrel some balls up and find some holes. But it was just a day where I wasn’t trying to do too much.”
With Seattle trailing 2-0, Zunino opened the fifth inning by hustling out of the batter’s box on a ground ball to second baseman Brian Roberts. He was initially called out by first base umpire Bill Miller, but that call was overturned when manager Lloyd McClendon challenged it.
“I felt like I beat it just because the play happened right in my peripheral and it was one of those things where it was a bang-bang play,” Zunino said.
“Obviously just whatever I can do to start that inning. I was just trying to get on base and had two strikes on me. I was trying to put the ball in play and luckily I was able to beat it out.”
The Mariners loaded the bases on two more hits and had the bases loaded with one out for former Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano was booed loudly throughout the night for leaving New York for Seattle’s 10-year, $240 million deal, and he had an RBI groundout for the first run.
Seattle had five of its season-high 15 hits in the inning and took the lead on the next pitch on a two-run double by designated hitter Corey Hart. Two pitches later, the Mariners had a two-run lead on a single by first baseman Justin Smoak.
“I’m always confident, even with the bases loaded,” Sabathia said. “I’m just thinking about making a pitch and damage control. I’ve just got to make a better pitch to Corey right there.”
Zunino reached three hits for the first time with a single in the sixth that knocked out Sabathia. He added an RBI single in the seventh when Seattle scored a pair of insurance runs.
“Not bad, he ought to get sick every day,” McLendon said.
Besides having the most productive game of his brief career and doing it following a 1-for-15 homestand, Zunino guided Young through his first win with the Mariners. Young had not won since Sept. 29, 2012, with the New York Mets after missing most of last season with shoulder surgery.
“It’s a great team win,” Young said. “I’m happy to be here and happy to contribute to wins and hopefully there’s more to come.”
Young allowed a solo home run to first baseman Mark Teixeira, who had three hits. He also allowed an unearned run, but pitched 5 2/3 innings and threw 63 of 105 pitches for strikes.
After Charlie Furbush and Danny Farquhar combined on 2 1/3 scoreless innings, closer Fernando Rodney struggled in a non-save situation. Rodney allowed three hits, including center fielder Brett Gardner’s run-scoring single, but fanned shortstop Derek Jeter and right fielder Carlos Beltran.
Sabathia took a shutout into the fifth but was gone two batters into the sixth after allowing four runs and 10 hits in six-plus innings.
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead with two outs in the second on Teixeira’s third home run and second in as many games. They scored a two-out unearned run when second baseman Brian Roberts came home on a throwing error by catcher Zunino, who made an errant throw on Gardner’s stolen base.
Cano heard boos when he was introduced before the game and they intensified as he stepped in for his first at-bat.
“Some people probably booed because they wish he was here,” Jeter said. “Some people booed because they’re upset he left and some people may have booed because the people next to them are booing. It is what it is. It’s not the first time that somebody’s come back and got booed.”
NOTES: The Yankees announced that RHP Ivan Nova underwent successful Tommy John surgery Tuesday afternoon. Before the game, the Yankees also announced that RHP Michael Pineda has a strained right lat muscle that will likely prevent him from starting Monday when he can return from a 10-game suspension for pine tar use. Afterward team spokesman Jason Zillo said that an MRI revealed a grade 1 strain of the teres major muscle, which is in between the lat and the shoulder.” ... Seattle RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (right middle finger) threw a bullpen session Tuesday, two days after making a rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners are undecided if he will make another rehab start or return from the DL on Friday. ... 3B Kyle Seeger was named the American League’s Co-Player of the week along with Chicago White Sox 1B Jose Abreu. Seager batted .409 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in six games from April 21-27.