SEATTLE -- The Yankees missed their chances to cut down Mitch Haniger on the basepaths, and it cost them a crack at a season sweep of the Mariners.Dellin Betances paid the price for a four-pitch walk to Haniger that opened the Seattle eighth. The speedy outfielder stole second base, advanced
SEATTLE -- The Yankees missed their chances to cut down Mitch Haniger on the basepaths, and it cost them a crack at a season sweep of the Mariners.
Dellin Betances paid the price for a four-pitch walk to Haniger that opened the Seattle eighth. The speedy outfielder stole second base, advanced on a sacrifice bunt, then swiped his left hand across home plate on Robinson Cano's grounder, sending the Yanks to a 3-2 loss on Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.
"We had a lot of opportunities. We had quite a few," said Brett Gardner, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the top of the ninth inning. "It was a frustrating day overall for us."
The loss was the Yankees' first in six contests against the Mariners this season. Combined with the Athletics' 7-3 victory over the Rangers, New York's lead for the first American League Wild Card spot was trimmed to 2 1/2 games.
"We wanted to come in and win the series," said Carsten Sabathia, who took a no-decision with five-plus innings of two-run, seven-hit ball. "That's the goal every series throughout the year. Especially right now at the end of the year, we need to win series."
Betances said poor mechanics led to the walk to Haniger, who also made a terrific diving catch in right field to rob Giancarlo Stanton of a hit for the game's final out. The Yankees brought the infield in when Haniger reached third base; Adeiny Hechavarria fielded Cano's grounder but threw wide of catcher Austin Romine.
"I made pitches, but I think the leadoff walk hurt," Betances said. "I think first pitch I tried to go breaking ball, then I was a little out of whack to start. They played small ball, and it worked out."
The Yanks' frustration boiled over in the ninth inning, as Gardner jawed with home-plate umpire Jeremie Rehak after striking out against Mariners closer Edwin Diaz, who polished off his 54th save as New York finished 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
Sabathia settled in after allowing first-inning RBI singles to Ryon Healy and Cameron Maybin, exiting to a warm ovation from the friendly road crowd of 34,917.
"I thought he was really scuffling there the first couple of innings," manager Aaron Boone said of Sabathia. "I thought he made the adjustment. He started throwing his cutter, driving it inside, which had been a problem for him the last couple of starts."
Reliever Chad Green fired two scoreless innings after the Yankees managed two runs against Erasmo Ramirez, who hurled five innings and scattered six hits. Stanton and Miguel Andujar gave New York a 1-0 lead in the first inning, knocking back-to-back one-out doubles.
Three consecutive singles in the fourth yielded a run on an Andrew McCutchen walk, but Stanton followed with a groundout that left the bases loaded. Stanton finished the afternoon 1-for-5 and is in a 7-for-61 (.115) rut over his last 16 games.
"I thought CC really did a good job there in the middle of the game, keeping us in it," Gardner said. "Myself and a couple of guys came up in big spots with some guys on base. We just couldn't seem to get the guys in."
Sabathia is 14-6 with a 2.60 ERA in 29 career starts against the Mariners, his lowest ERA against any opponent. His 2.24 ERA at Safeco Field is the third-lowest ERA at the ballpark (min. 75 innings), behind Bartolo Colon (1.98) and Dan Haren (2.00).
HE SAID IT
"I guess that was the final straw. He was probably tired of hearing guys getting on him. That was a big pitch in my at-bat, going from being 3-0 to being 2-1 against a guy that throws 100 [mph]. It's frustrating. I let my emotions get the best of me. Obviously I said too much." -- Gardner, on his ejection
J.A. Happ (14-6, 3.90 ERA) will look to remain undefeated as a Yankee on Monday as the Bombers open a three-game series at Target Field against the Twins at 8:10 p.m. ET. Kyle Gibson (7-12, 3.74) gets the call for Minnesota.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.