Mariners 2, Yankees 1
NEW YORK (AP)—Gil Meche has spent much of his promising young career just trying to get healthy. He seems to have mastered the art of pitching at Yankee Stadium quite quickly, however.
It was Meche’s second big performance in the Bronx this year—he threw 7 2-3 innings in a 6-0 win over Roger Clemens on April 29.
“It’s a good feeling to come in here and do the same thing I did against Clemens,” Meche said. “For me, that was the biggest game I’ve ever pitched.
“It’s a big-time place to play. As far as emotionally, you better be ready, otherwise the fans are probably going to get to you. I just love big games.”
Seattle scratched out runs on Mike Cameron’s RBI groundout and Bret Boone’s sacrifice fly to end a three-game skid. The top two teams in the AL have split the first two games of a three-game set—Clemens faces Jamie Moyer on Sunday in a matchup of aces in their 40s.
Nick Johnson homered in the fourth inning for the Yankees, who entered the day with a four-game lead over Boston in the AL East. Hideki Matsui’s fifth-inning single was the only other hit off Meche, who faced just one more than the minimum and retired his final 10 batters.
“Adrenaline also helps. This place is a legendary place for me to come and pitch,” Meche said.
Shigetoshi Hasegawa worked a one-hit ninth for his ninth save in nine chances. He has not allowed a run in his last 24 innings, dating to June 1.
Meche (13-7) has won three consecutive starts following a four-game losing streak. The 24-year-old right-hander spent last season at Double-A San Antonio after missing 2001 while recovering from shoulder surgery.
“You talk about big games, every game is a big game for Gil after the surgery,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said.
Meche walked just one and used a surprisingly crisp fastball to strike out seven.
“Did you see the fastball—97, 98 (mph)? Maybe he should be the closer,” Hasegawa said.
Pettitte (13-7) had won a career-best eight consecutive decisions since losing to the Chicago Cubs on June 8. With a little more run support he could still be on a major roll—Pettitte took a one-hit shutout into the ninth inning of his last outing but the Yankees lost 2-1 in Oakland.
“His stuff has been so consistent,” New York manager Joe Torre said. “I don’t think anybody has pitched more good games than he has.”
The left-hander threw a five-hitter for his first complete game of the year and the 23rd of his career. He struck out five and walked one before a sellout crowd of 54,945.
“It was a tough game to lose,” Pettitte said.
Edgar Martinez doubled leading off the second and scored on Cameron’s RBI groundout.
Johnson, who hit a grand slam and drove in a career-high five runs Friday night, lined a 3-2 pitch off the foul-pole screen in right field for his eighth homer in the fourth.
“We scored both runs with situational hitting,” Melvin said. “That’s been our strength this year—we’ve won a lot of close games.”
Boone’s brother, Yankees third baseman Aaron, went 0-for-3 but threw out Bret with a nice backhand play in the ninth.
“When I hit it, I knew he was going to get it,” Bret said.
Yankees SS Derek Jeter was 0-for-3, ending his 12-game hitting streak. … Yankees C Jorge Posada sat out his second game in a row with a stiff neck, and Torre said there’s a good chance Posada won’t play Sunday, either. … CF Bernie Williams was back in New York’s lineup after not starting the last two games because of a sore knee and shoulder. He went 0-for-3. … Seattle’s Randy Winn doubled in the fifth but got caught in a rundown when Pettitte snared Dan Wilson’s comebacker. … Sanchez was back in the lineup at SS after leaving Friday night’s game with a strained right quadriceps muscle. … The Yankees have hit 14 homers in their last seven games. … Martinez doubled off Pettitteagain in the ninth.