SEATTLE — Jacoby Ellsbury provided the jolt New York’s sluggish offense needed, even if the Yankees still are struggling to score runs.
Ellsbury lined an RBI single on a 0-2 pitch to score Derek Jeter with the go ahead run in the eighth inning, and the Yankees beat the Seattle Mariners 3-2 on Tuesday night.
"This type of game is the type of win that has been eluding us," Ellsbury said. "Hopefully, if we can win these types of games we’ll be in great shape. It’s always nice to go out there and throw a bunch of runs up there and make it easy on the pitching staff, but yeah, you have very good hitters, it’s just a matter of time before it really starts clicking."
Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 14 games — the longest for a Yankees player since Jeter’s 19-game streak in 2012 — and gave New York just its fourth win in the last 11 games. Ellsbury’s hit came after Jeter’s ground-rule double off Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
Scoring the winning run capped a big night for Jeter, one that started with festivities. The Mariners honored Jeter during a pregame ceremony in his final visit to the city where he made his major-league debut in 1995. Jeter was given a seat from the old Kingdome and an engraved watch from former New York teammate Robinson Cano as part of his farewell tour gifts.
Jeter then went out and had two hits and scored two runs. He also scored on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double in the first.
"Anytime you can start rallies those are big things," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "And you get yourself into scoring position with less than two outs, those are big things."
Scoring runs has become a problem for the Yankees. They haven’t scored more than four runs since May 28 against St. Louis. While that’s a small sample, it’s enough that Girardi was questioned before the game about his concern over the lack of offense.
They didn’t get a lot against Iwakuma (4-3), but the Yankees came through in key moments. Beltran had the first big hit with his opposite-field double to score Jeter. That was followed by Brian McCann’s RBI infield single that handed starter Vidal Nuno a 2-0 lead before he took the mound.
Then it was Ellsbury’s turn in the eighth, lining the two-strike pitch from Charlie Furbush for a single to take the lead.
"I feel like my at-bats are better than April. I don’t know where the numbers stand but I feel a little better up there," Ellsbury said. "But the big thing is we won tonight, not really extending a hit streak or anything like that.
Nuno and the Yankees bullpen made sure what offense they received was enough.
A rainout on Monday in Kansas City ruined a potential matchup between former teammates in Japan, Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka. Instead, Tanaka was pushed back to Wednesday.
Nuno went 5 2/3 innings and was in line for the victory before Dellin Betances‘ problems in the seventh. Nuno struck out two and allowed only Cole Gillespie’s RBI single to score Cano in the first.
Nuno did escape trouble in the second and fourth innings when Seattle had runners in scoring position with two outs and were unable to get the runner home. Michael Saunders came inches from a three-run homer in the fourth, but his drive to the deepest point of Safeco Field was caught at the wall by Ellsbury.
"He did what he had to do," Girardi said. "I thought he did pretty well. He got us to the sixth inning."
Seattle pulled even at 2-2 in the seventh off Betances when Dustin Ackley singled just over the head of Brian Roberts to score Mike Zunino.
"He throws so hard and is so long you just got to see it and hit it," Ackley said of facing Betances. "Luckily I was able to sneak it over the infield."
But the Yankees responded immediately in the eighth and instead of blowing the lead, Betances (4-0) got credited with the victory.
Yankees RHP Shawn Kelley is expected to rejoin the club on Wednesday. Kelley’s been out with a back strain. … Seattle signed second-round pick OF Gareth Morgan on Tuesday. Morgan took part in batting practice with the team before the game. … Seattle RHP Taijuan Walker (shoulder) was returned from his rehab assignment and optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.