SEATTLE -- A rocky second half for the Mariners got a little rougher on Saturday as Seattle dropped a 4-2 decision to the Yankees while also losing Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano to injury and more ground to the Astros and A's in the American League playoff race.
Yankees catcher Austin Romine's solo homer off reliever Nick Vincent in the seventh inning proved to be the difference as the Mariners fell to 78-64, now 11 games behind AL West-leading Houston and 7 1/2 behind Oakland for the second AL Wild Card spot with 20 games to go.
The Mariners are 4-8 over their last 12 games and 22-32 since July 5. They've totaled just seven hits and two runs in back-to-back losses to the Yankees, and that lack of offense has been an overriding theme to Seattle's second-half fade.
"It's a broken record. It really is," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "Frustrating, disappointing, whatever, you have to square a few more balls up, get more pressure on other teams."
Hernandez was taken out of the game with no outs in the fifth inning with a tight right hamstring after walking Brett Gardner and Andrew McCutchen in a 1-1 game, with Gardner eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly by Giancarlo Stanton off reliever Shawn Armstrong.
Cano was hit in the left foot by a Dellin Betances pitch in the ninth inning and was replaced by pinch-runner Kristopher Negron.
Cano was walking without a limp in the clubhouse afterward and said he hoped to play in Sunday's series finale, though he'd need to wait and see how the foot feels in the morning. Hernandez's situation is a little more tenuous, as hamstring issues can be difficult for pitchers, though he said he'll just "wrap it up and go for it" for his next start.
The Mariners planned to go with a six-man rotation in the final three weeks, with Marco Gonzales returning on Tuesday, so they do have an extra starter if Hernandez isn't able to go.
"We'll see how he feels going forward," Servais said. "It's always a concern, certainly a pitcher, anything lower body like that, you rely so heavily on your legs, so just have to see how he is the next couple days."
Hernandez said the hamstring has been sore for a start or two, but he noticed it more after slipping on the mound while facing Stanton as the second batter in the first inning and it gradually became more of an issue.
"It was a little tight. We didn't want to get it worse, so I came out of the game," Hernandez said. "I felt pretty good today, but in the fifth I started having a little different mechanics because of the hamstring and I had to come out."
Hernandez gave up a leadoff homer to McCutchen in the first, but grinded through the next four innings to keep the game close. He allowed two runs (one unearned thanks to a passed ball that allowed Gardner to advance to third) on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
With the no-decision, Hernandez's record remains at 8-13 with a career-high 5.46 ERA. The six-time All-Star is 0-7 with a 6.14 ERA in 10 outings since his last win on June 30.
"It's been a tough year," Hernandez acknowledged.
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino launched a leadoff homer in the third, a blast projected by Statcast™ to travel 436 feet, to tie the game at 1, and Dee Gordon's bloop RBI single in the fifth knotted the game again at 2.
But Romine's solo shot to right field off Vincent gave the Yankees their fifth straight win over Seattle and upped their MLB-leading home run total to 232. The Yankees are on pace for 265 homers, which would break MLB's single-season record of 264, set by the Mariners in 1997.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Mariners had their best chance in the ninth when Betances loaded the bases after hitting Cano, but the big right-hander set down Denard Span and Kyle Seager on foul-tip strikeouts. Span fouled off a 98-mph heater, while Seager was caught by an 87-mph slider after seeing four straight offspeed pitches.
"He's a tough pitcher," Span said. "He's got that 98 fastball and then two devastating breaking balls with his slider and his curveball. You really can't sit on a pitch, you just have to hope he makes a mistake and when he does, you better take advantage of it."
McCutchen's homer off Hernandez hiked the right-hander's first-inning ERA on the season to 8.13. Of the 25 home runs he's allowed in 28 games, 10 have come in the first inning, which is tied with the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks for second-most in the Majors, behind the 11 allowed by the Rockies' Tyler Anderson.
HE SAID IT
"We obviously know what's at stake. It's frustrating when you lose any time of the year, but we just haven't been able to collectively get going. We just have to find a way to try to come together and have better team at-bats." -- Span, on the struggling offense