The Yankees have been dominated by Felix Hernandez many times since the current Yankee Stadium opened.
They were not dominated Monday, but they did not do enough as the defense ultimately failed in what became an ugly 10-2 loss to the Mariners.
The Yankees fell to 1-4 against Hernandez at the current Yankee Stadium as he limited them to two runs and eight hits in seven innings. Five of those hits came in the fourth inning when Ichiro had a fluky two-run single on a ball that deflected off Hernandez’s heel and past shortstop Brad Miller. Eight of the Yankees’ nine hits were singles.
“I thought we actually did a pretty good job against Felix but we’re not a club right now that’s hitting the ball out of the ballpark,” manager Joe Girardi said. “So you got to put a lot of base hits together and we’re not hitting a lot of doubles either. So you got to put a lot of base hits together. At times we’ve been able to do it and times we haven’t.
“We’ve run into some pretty decent pitching here over the last two weeks but we’re not hitting the ball out of the ballpark and it’s harder to score runs.”
Before tying the game in the bottom of the fourth, the defense came up short in the top of the inning. Kyle Seager hit a fly ball which turned into a triple because left fielder Brett Gardner couldn’t make a sliding catch and Derek Jeter was slow in getting the ball back into the infield.
“I wouldn’t really say that Derek had a big mental mistake,” Gardner said. “He thought the ball was foul. It was a weird play. I should have caught the ball. The ball was in my glove. I thought I was going to catch it in front of my body.”
“It’s unfortunate,” Girardi said. “Maybe we could have done a little better but I don’t think it was from a lack of effort.”
The Mariners did not get a run out of that weird circumstance but the real distressing defense came in Seattle’s four-run seventh which knocked out David Phelps. The first defensive miscue came when Phelps went to field a bunt by Endy Chavez and instead of getting the higher-percentage out at first base, he threw to third. Although it was a close play — and worthy of challenge — it did not result in an out.
Two pitches later, the Yankees were behind again when Miller’s bases-loaded ground ball found a hole up in the middle and scored two runs. The Yankees fell behind by four runs after Michael Saunders’ ground ball went under first baseman Kelly Johnson’s glove into right field.
“I didn’t really see a replay of it,” Girardi said. “It looked like it went underneath his glove. I don’t know if his glove came up too early or if it was out of his reach but it’s something I’ll look at.”
The Yankees entered Monday with a .983 fielding percentage, 10th in the league.
The Yankees were unable to hit a home run, something they’ve only done 48 times in 1,940 at-bats (one per 40.4 at-bats) this season.
“We have to find ways to win without them [home runs],” Jeter said. “Home runs, they’re nice because they score runs quickly but you have to find other ways to win.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.