- Last Updated: 7:39 AM, July 26, 2012
- Posted: 2:45 AM, July 26, 2012
SEATTLE — Two wins in seven games never looked so good.
Yet to the Yankees it was the difference between Hillary Clinton and Kate Upton.
Normally that ledger on a West Coast trip would send the Yankees home bitter and searching for answers. And though the 2-5 mark on this trip is nowhere near what is expected from the AL East leaders, the alternative was one win to go along with the loss of Alex Rodriguez with a fractured left hand.
Rodriguez will be gone for a while, but in the first game without him, the Yankees used a four-run rally in the eighth inning — highlighted by Jayson Nix’s pinch-hit, three-run double — to secure a crucial 5-2 victory over the Mariners in front of 36,071 at Safeco Field.
Nix, a reserve infielder who didn’t join the Yankees until early May, played the hero after Derek Jeter’s first-inning homer was the only Yankees run through seven.
“It feels good because we struggled all day to get something going,’’ said Nix, who was hitting for the slumping Raul Ibanez. “It feels good to come through. When you get chances, you have to do something positive. To come through today is good.’’
With Rodriguez out for 6-8 weeks,
Nix likely will play third base against some left-handers.
Ichiro Suzuki, who hit leadoff after batting eighth in the first two games as a Yankee, went 1-for-5 and was caught attempting to steal second. He is 3-for-12 in pinstripes.
Inserted into the second spot in the order for the first time this season, Jeter went 3-for-4, homered and scored twice.
David Phelps (2-3), who is emerging as a right arm that can be trusted out of the bullpen, worked 1 1⁄3 innings to get the win, fanning two and stranding an inherited runner in the sixth.
David Robertson hurled the eighth, and Rafael Soriano recorded the final three outs for his 26th save in 28 chances.
Clay Rapada and Phelps helped in the seventh after Ivan Nova issued two of his season-high six walks to start the frame. Rapada induced a double play grounder and Phelps fanned Casper Wells.
“After losing five of the last six games, to be able to win this series is important,’’ said manager Joe Girardi, whose club was swept in a four-game series in Oakland and copped two of three from the hapless Mariners. “Two-and-five isn’t what you want, but we won the second half of the road trip.’’
Girardi won a chess match with Mariners manager Eric Wedge in the game-turning eighth. With the bases loaded, one out, the Yankees trailing by a run and lefty Lucas Luetge on the mound, Girardi inserted Nix to hit for Ibanez, who was batting .171 (6-for-35) against lefties and in a 4-for-24 (.167) overall funk. Wedge countered with right-hander Shawn Kelley to face the right-handed hitting Nix.
“I knew [Wedge] was out of lefties in the bullpen and I would have had a right-hander to face [Chavez, the next batter],’’ Girardi said of his strategy.
Nix made Girardi look good when he drove a 2-2 slider into the left-center field gap for a three-run double.
“All I was trying to do was get a sacrifice fly and not try to do too much,’’ Nix said.
What he did was more than enough, even if it was a 2-5 record stuffed into the suitcases.