NEW YORK (AP) — Hoping to spur his team after a sluggish first half, manager Lloyd McClendon gathered the Mariners for a full-squad workout five hours before gametime at Yankee Stadium.
“We haven’t played any baseball that amounted to much of anything,” McClendon said after the practice, adding, “I expect to see a different club tonight.”
Well, not quite.
Alex Rodriguez returned from the All-Star break with a boom, hitting a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning as Masahiro Tanaka and New York overcame two homers by Kyle Seager to beat Seattle 4-3 Friday night.
McClendon said the session and a subsequent meeting were designed to get the kinks out and focus the players after a 41-48 start.
“Our workout served its purpose,” he said following Seattle’s latest loss.
“Our guys had a lot of energy tonight. Tanaka had a lot to do with that,” he said. “We just left one pitch up and lost the ballgame.”
Left off the AL All-Star team, a rested A-Rod hit his 19th homer of the season and 673rd of his career. He connected 10 days before his 40th birthday.
Rodriguez lined a solo drive into the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center field. The one-out shot came against Joe Beimel (0-1). Earlier in the game, Rodriguez singled for his 3,021st hit, moving past Rafael Palmeiro for 25th place on the all-time list.
Beimel said he threw a sinker that didn’t sink.
“Bad pitch on a guy that has over 650 home runs,” he said. “I knew as soon as he hit it. I’m surprised it didn’t go farther than it actually did because it was pretty loud off the bat.”
Chris Young homered and doubled in helping the AL East leaders beat the Mariners for the seventh straight time, with the previous six wins at Safeco Field. Seattle had won five in a row at Yankee Stadium, dating to 2013.
Overall, the road team had won 11 straight in the Mariners-Yankees series.
Tanaka (6-3) beat the Mariners for the second time this season, striking out seven in seven innings.
All-Star Dellin Betances struck out Seager in a perfect eighth, and Andrew Miller closed for his 19th save in as many chances.
Seager twice tagged Tanaka, driving in all three Seattle runs with the sixth multihomer game of his career.
“This ballpark obviously, the Yankees and everything, it’s got a lot of history to it, so it’s a cool place,” Seager said. “I grew up a Yankees fan, so that’s always going to be, you know, exciting for me, for sure. It’s a good ballpark to hit in.”
Tanaka fared much better against star slugger Nelson Cruz, retiring him all three times, twice on strikeouts. Cruz is 0 for 12 lifetime vs. the Japanese right-hander, fanning six times.
Young hit a solo homer off rookie Mike Montgomery in the second, and doubled and scored in the fourth. In both at-bats, Young seemed surprised that 3-1 pitches were called strikes, then delivered.
Montgomery struck out nine in six innings.
Rodriguez singled in the fifth and scored on Brian McCann’s single, making it 3-all.
Mariners: LHP J.A. Happ is set to return from the Class A Bakersfield roster and start Monday night in Detroit. He was technically sent to the minors last week because he wasn’t scheduled to pitch before the All-Star break, allowing Seattle to add an extra bat.
Jesus Montero struck out with a runner on first to end the game. He was acquired for Pineda after the 2011 season in a trade of highly regarded young players, but has struggled since the deal. Promoted from Triple-A last week, he was leading the Pacific Coast League in hits and RBIs at the time. He figures to start Sunday vs. his former club when LHP CC Sabathia pitches for the Yankees. Montero is 1 for 8 since rejoining the Mariners.
Yankees RHP Michael Pineda (9-5, 3.64) starts Saturday vs. his former team. In his first game against the Mariners, he took a shutout into the seventh inning and won at Seattle on June 1. Mariners RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1, 5.22) makes his third start since being sidelined by a strain on his right side. He won with eight shutout innings vs. the Angels last week.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.