Teixeira slams Felix, Pineda baffles old team as Yanks throttle M’s
The overwhelming feeling from Mark Teixeira and his New York teammates was to savor what happened on Monday night.
Scoring seven runs off Seattle ace Felix Hernandez — capped by Teixeira’s ninth career grand slam — is a rare occurrence.
"You never really know what you’re going to get with a guy like Felix," Teixeira said. "He could be throwing the ball on the corners. He could be throwing the ball down in the dirt. He could be coming after you 0-1, 0-2. I think the first few innings we were probably a little over aggressive and then we made the adjustment."
Teixeira’s grand slam was part of the Yankees’ five-run fifth inning, and Michael Pineda allowed two runs pitching into the seventh of New York’s 7-2 win over the Mariners on Monday night.
The anticipated matchup between two of the top right-handers in the American League met expectations for three innings before Hernandez (8-2) fell apart in stunning fashion.
The Yankees took advantage of five walks and a wild pitch that allowed a run to score as the AL wins leader lost his rhythm following a brief rain shower that dampened Safeco Field before the retractable roof could close.
With Hernandez struggling, Teixeira didn’t miss his chance to blow the game open. With only one out in the fifth, Hernandez fell behind 2-0 and left a pitch in the middle of the plate that Teixeira hit for his 15th homer of the season and sixth career long ball off Hernandez.
It was the first grand slam for Teixeira since June 3, 2013, against Cleveland and the third of the season for the Yankees.
"That was a home run ball," Hernandez said.
While Hernandez faltered, Pineda (7-2) was outstanding pitching in Seattle for the first time since being traded by the Mariners after the 2011 season, when he was an All-Star. Pineda didn’t allow a runner to reach second base until Seth Smith’s triple in the seventh that scored Kyle Seager from first.
Pineda won his second straight decision and struck out nine, matching his second-highest total this season.
"I was very excited today for this game. I was very happy to be here and pitching in Safeco Field. I’m happy tonight," Pineda said. "I had really good focus today and tried to do my best on the mound."
Hernandez was the star for the first three innings when "King Felix" lived up to his moniker. Hernandez rolled through the Yankees’ lineup the first time, needing just 21 pitches — 18 strikes — and recording four strikeouts to set down the first nine batters in order.
But it all fell apart for Seattle’s ace starting in the fourth.
"It doesn’t happen very often to Felix. He’s pitched really well against us over the years, so it was kind of nice," New York manager Joe Girardi said.
Hernandez struggled with his footing on the wet mound and his spikes were getting clogged with dirt. A burst of rain wetted the dirt in the second and third innings before the retractable roof closed.
After Brett Gardner led off the fourth with New York’s first hit, Hernandez continually looked at his feet, kicked around the dirt and tried to dig mud out of his spikes.
Hernandez said constantly trying to clean his spikes got him out of rhythm but wasn’t the reason he pitched poorly.
"That’s not an excuse for me," Hernandez said.
The seven earned runs were his most since August 2013 against Texas. Hernandez had allowed just six earned runs total in his previous five starts versus the Yankees.
Yankees: LHP Chris Capuano will go to the bullpen when Masahiro Tanaka rejoins the New York rotation on Wednesday. Girardi will keep Adam Warren in the rotation.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma had another throwing session on Monday as he continues to recover from a muscle strain in his back and side. Iwakuma is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Thursday.
Yankees: C.C. Sabathia (2-7) tries to snap a two-game losing streak. Sabathia has pitched at least six innings in five of his last six starts.
Mariners: Left-handed Mike Montgomery will be called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday to make his major league debut. Montgomery was 4-3 with a 3.74 ERA in nine starts at Triple-A.