Yankees 11, Mariners 3
Rodriguez was missing from the Yankees’ lineup for the first time this season—after starting 114 straight games at third base—and he wasn’t even at Safeco Field to watch the game. He has the flu and was feeling so badly that the Yankees let him skip the game so he could rest.
Manager Joe Torre said after the game that he didn’t expect Rodriguez to be available Saturday, but probably would be able to play Sunday.
“Alex went home,” Torre said. “The doctor saw him before the game and said it was probably best if he went home because he was a mess tonight. He just wasn’t feeling good.
“I doubt if he’ll be able to play tomorrow. I think you look for Sunday at the earliest.”
Mariners manager Bob Melvin didn’t see any letup from a Yankees lineup that was without its All-Star third baseman.
“Sometimes 4-3 losses are tougher to take,” he said. “But you don’t like to get whacked around like that.”
In routing the last-place Mariners, the Yankees improved to a season-high 33 games over .500 at 74-41.
Miguel Cairo replaced Rodriguez at third a night after hitting a grand slam and went 3-for-5, including an RBI triple, as the Yankees had 14 hits—eight for extra bases.
Lieber (9-7) won his second straight start. He gave up three runs and seven hits, struck out four and walked none.
Although right-hander Mike Mussina is rejoining the rotation next Tuesday night at Minnesota, the Yankees won’t demote any of their starters, including Lieber, to accommodate Mussina. Instead, the Yankees will go with a six-man rotation for at least two turns.
Lieber said an expanded six-man rotation is fine with him.
“I think if you ask pitchers, they’ll always tell you they can use an extra day of rest,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to affect me either way.”
Sierra hit his second grand slam of the season and eighth of his career in a six-run fourth. New York batted around, the 23rd inning the Yankees have done that this season.
It was Sierra’s 299th career homer. He can’t wait to get his 300th.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” he said. “I know it’s going to happen. If I put pressure, it might take longer.”
Villone (4-3), making his seventh start of the season, gave up eight runs on 10 hits and three walks, with three strikeouts.
“My control got the best of me,” Villone said. “I got too many pitches in the strike zone.”
After Sierra gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the second, they made it 4-0 against Villone on Williams’ three-run shot in the third.
Posada homered off new Mariners closer J.J. Putz in the ninth.
Miguel Olivo hit a two-run homer off Lieber for the Mariners’ first runs in the fifth.
Yankees first baseman John Olerud returned to Seattle, but didn’t play because Torre elected to play Tony Clark at 1B against Villone. Olerud will start Saturday and Sunday, Torre said. The Mariners released Olerud on July 27 after designating him for assignment, and the Yankees signed him as a free agent Aug. 2. … Derek Jeter has a 14-game hitting streak, the longest by a Yankees player this season. … The Yankees have eight grand slams in 2004, including grand slams in consecutive games. Cairo’s slam Thursday came against Scott Erickson on Thursday. … Seattle’s Bret Boone had his career-high 16-game hitting streak ended. … The Yankees are 5-2 against the Mariners this season.