Suzuki gets 3 hits to help Seattle beat New York 7-1, snapping a 9-game skid
He still managed to do pretty well against a banged-up Rocket.
“I was very anxious. The first time in my seven-year career that I thought I might say something mean to Carl Hamilton, our video coordinator,” Suzuki cracked.
Clemens (6-6) allowed eight hits and five runs in four innings, and left to get an MRI exam on his balky right elbow before the clubhouse opened after the loss.
“First three innings it was a manageable situation for him and then it started to tighten up,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “Hopefully it’s just something that needs a little rest.”
Seattle ended its season-worst nine-game losing streak and trimmed New York’s wild-card lead to one game, winning for the first time since it beat Texas 4-2 on Aug. 24.
“I can sleep tonight,” manager John McLaren said. “That’s a start.”
Suzuki homered in the third inning to reach 200 hits for the seventh consecutive season, tying the AL mark. He also singled twice against Clemens to raise his career average against the right-hander to .217 (5-for-23).
“Two-hundred hits is always special for me, no matter what the situation,” Suzuki said through a translator. “But I did have the plus also today of getting a win after nine consecutive losses and getting it off of Roger Clemens.”
Alex Rodriguez had a broken-bat RBI single in the first for New York, which has lost three of its last four. Mike Mussina pitched 3 2-3 innings in his first relief appearance in 499 regular-season games, setting the major league record for most starts to begin a career before first relief appearance.
“It’s just fun to go out and pitch again,” said Mussina, who last started Aug. 27 against Detroit. “If I didn’t get in today, I don’t know when I was going to get in.”
Mussina also relieved Clemens in Game 7 of the 2003 AL championship series and tossed three scoreless innings against Boston.
The matchup between the 45-year-old Clemens and 21-year-old Hernandez was the largest age difference between opposing starters since Charlie Hough started for Florida against Salomon Torres of the Giants on April 16, 1994.
Clemens had 16 wins and 200 strikeouts when Hernandez was born on April 8, 1986, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The young right-hander easily got the better of the banged-up Clemens, who also has been bothered by blisters on his feet. Torre had Mussina prepare for the start in case the Rocket couldn’t go.
“We checked with him twice before the game,” Torre said of Clemens. “He felt that whatever he had to deal with was not an issue.”
Suzuki’s solo drive off Clemens (6-6) in the third gave Seattle a 2-1 lead. It was his sixth homer of the year and extended his own major league record for consecutive 200-hit seasons to begin a career to seven.
The major league record for consecutive 200-hit seasons is eight by Willie Keeler (1894-01). Suzuki matched the AL mark held by Wade Boggs (1983-89).
The Mariners scored three times in the fourth to increase the lead to 5-1. Yuniesky Betancourt lined a two-out, two-run double down the third-base line, causing a weary McLaren to pump his fist in the dugout.
Suzuki then singled in Betancourt and was caught off first in a rundown, but decided against prolonging the play. The All-Star outfielder promptly bolted toward the dugout without being tagged as the Yankee Stadium crowd chuckled.
“I hate being touched by other people so rather than being touched I’d rather run away from them,” Suzuki said.
Hernandez (11-7) made the most of all the run support, allowing just five hits in his first start in the Bronx. He struck out five and walked four to improve to 5-1 in his last eight starts.
“The only thing I got (on) my mind today was win,” Hernandez said. “No matter how, no matter what, just win.”
Mussina gave up seven hits and two runs. His last turn in the rotation was skipped and it’s unclear when he’ll get another start.
“I might be pitching Roger’s turn the next time but we’ll wait and see,” he said. “You send somebody for an MRI they tend to miss a turn but we’ll just let them figure that out.”
Yankees 1B Andy Phillips has a broken right wrist and will have surgery Tuesday, most likely sidelining him for the rest of the year. Phillips was hit by a pitch during New York’s 8-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday. Jason Giambi started against Seattle. … Suzuki leads the majors with 65 multihit games. … Mariners closer J.J. Putz pitched the ninth in a non-save situation.