Sports Outside the Beltway

Yanks drop opener to M’s, 7-1

Yanks wildcard lead wittled to one after Labor Day loss to Seattle.

It had been more than 13 years since two opposing starting pitchers had a greater age difference than the Yankees’ Roger Clemens and the Seattle Mariners’ Félix Hernández. The Mariners, a foil for some of Clemens’s greatest moments, made him look his age today in a 7-1 victory at Yankee Stadium…

The Yankees scored once in seven innings off Hernández (11-7), who allowed five hits to help the Mariners snap a nine-game losing streak. The loss whittled the Yankees’ lead in the American League wild card race to one game over Seattle and two and a half over the idle Detroit Tigers. The Yankees have lost three of four.

Clemens and Hernández were born 23 years and 247 days apart; according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last match-up with a wider gap came in 1994, when Charlie Hough of Florida opposed Salomon Torres of San Francisco.

Clemens was helped by two double plays, but so was Hernández, who got sparkling defense from Yuniesky Betancourt, his Gold Glove-caliber shortstop. Betancourt also had two doubles and three runs batted in.

After the Yankees scored in the first on a bloop single by Alex Rodriguez, the Mariners broke through in the second. After a single and a walk, Clemens tried to field an infield dribbler by Jose Lopez. But the ball was perfectly placed, and Clemens slipped on the grass with his right foot, nearly doing a split and getting up gingerly.

He retired Betancourt for the third out, but Suzuki lined a leadoff homer to right in the third, after Clemens fell behind 2-0 and tried an 89-mile-an-hour fastball. Seattle battered Clemens for three runs on three hits and a hit batsman in the fourth, with Betancourt’s two-run double to left the key blow.

Clemens was removed after the fourth inning, and the mound essentially turned into a laboratory. Mussina was seeking a remedy for his recent slump, which caused him to lose his place in the rotation.

The Yanks are really counting on Wang tomorrow, who nearly pitched a perfecto against Seattle back in May.

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