Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners Put Yankees’ Playoff Party on Hold

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September 20, 2009

Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners Put Yankees' Playoff Party on Hold

SEATTLE — Ken Griffey Jr. homered
and drove in four runs, putting the New York Yankees’ playoff party on
hold by leading the Seattle Mariners to a 7-1 victory Sunday.

The loss prevented New York from
clinching a spot in the postseason. The Yankees can secure their 14th
playoff berth in 15 years with a victory at the Los Angeles Angels on
Monday night or a Texas loss at Oakland.

The 39-year-old Griffey lined an RBI
double in the first inning, then cracked a three-run homer in the
second off starter Joba Chamberlain.

Seattle took two of three from the
Yankees, who lead the AL East by five games over Boston with 12 to
play. One more win — or a Rangers loss — assures New York of at least
the wild card.

It was Griffey’s first four-RBI game
since July 10, 2008, with Cincinnati. Griffey also doubled and homered
in that game against the Chicago Cubs.

Chamberlain (8-6) became the 405th pitcher to give up a homer to Griffey.

Beyond Griffey, this performance was
not what the Yankees wanted to see out of Chamberlain with the playoffs
approaching. The burly right-hander knew before the game that he’d be
given the opportunity in this start to potentially get the victory and
pitch five innings. He lasted only three. Chamberlain gave up six hits,
walked three and barely threw more strikes than balls.

And it was a struggle from the start.

Chamberlain gave up consecutive
two-out doubles in the first to Jose Lopez and Griffey, then allowed a
dribbling grounder to center by Adrian Beltre to score Griffey for a
2-0 Seattle lead.

In the second, Chamberlain allowed
back-to-back singles by Mike Carp and Adam Moore — his first major
league hit — and intentionally walked Ichiro Suzuki with one out.
Chamberlain lost Franklin Gutierrez on a 3-2 pitch to force in one run
and Lopez followed with a sacrifice fly.

Chamberlain had a chance to escape
the inning with just two runs, getting ahead of Griffey in the count
1-2. He tried sneaking a down-and-in fastball past Griffey, but the
veteran slugger was waiting and dropped the barrel of the bat for his
627th career homer and 16th this season.

That was plenty for Mariners starter
Ian Snell. A night after Seattle pitching was battered for 10 runs and
18 hits by the Yankees, Snell worked 5 1/3 efficient innings, allowing
just four hits and one run. New York’s only run came in the sixth when
Jorge Posada, back from a three-game suspension for fighting, served a
double down the left-field line to score Mark Teixeira, who opened the
inning with a double.

Teixeira had three hits Sunday and was 7-for-9 with two doubles, a triple and two homers in the final two games of the series.

Snell (5-2) joined Seattle in a deal
with Pittsburgh just before the July 31 trade deadline. The
right-hander is 6-10 overall this season.

Notes
Yankees manager Joe Girardi
said CC Sabathia has just a little red mark on his upper chest after
taking a line drive off Gutierrez’s bat in the fifth inning Saturday
night. … Seattle C Kenji Johjima was originally in the lineup but was
removed because of soreness in his left knee after taking a foul tip
off his leg Saturday night. … Girardi said RHP Chad Gaudin is
considered the team’s fifth starter as the playoffs approach, with the
move of RHP Sergio Mitre to the bullpen. Gaudin will start for the
Yankees on Tuesday against the Angels.

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