SEATTLE -- Brett Gardner's solo home run in the sixth inning helped lift the Yankees to a 4-1 victory over the Mariners on Thursday, as flame-throwing Luis Severino out-dueled Felix Hernandez in the opening game of a four-game series at Safeco Field.
Hernandez threw a seven-inning gem, allowing just three hits and one run with nine strikeouts, but was the tough-luck loser as he fell to 5-4 with a 3.88 ERA. Robinson Canohad a pair of hits against his former Yankees team, but Seattle lost its opening game of a key 10-game homestand after a 5-1 road trip got it back in Wild Card contention.
The Yankees added an unearned run in the eighth on a bases-loaded single by Aaron Judge off reliever Tony Zych for his 68th RBI of the year and two more unearned runs in the ninth on a throwing error on Cano. Judge struck out twice and walked once against Hernandez, in his first meeting against the longtime Mariners ace. Cano gave the Mariners their first run with an RBI double in the ninth.
Severino, an American League All-Star, picked up his first win since June 10 as he scattered eight hits and one walk over seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts. The 23-year-old improved to 6-4 with a 3.21 ERA and helped the Yankees even their record at 4-4 on their 11-game road trip.
The Yankees are just 11-22 since June 13, the worst mark in the Majors in that span, but still hold the No. 2 WIld Card position by one game over the Twins and 2 1/2 games over the Mariners at 49-45. Seattle, winner of seven of its previous nine, slipped to 48-49.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Crankin' it up: Severino denied the Mariners in the fourth with some powerful pitching as he escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting Jean Segura to ground out to short on a 100-mph fastball. Severino hit 101.2 mph on the previous pitch, per Statcast™, which is the highest velocity by a starting pitcher in the Majors this year. The Mariners had runners on first and third with no out after a double by Kyle Seager and single by Danny Valencia, but Severino got Mitch Haniger to pop out on a first-pitch fastball and Jarrod Dyson to fly out to shallow center. He then walked Mike Zunino before getting Segura for the final out.
Covering serious ground: Seattle's outfield defense has been the best-rated group in the Majors this year and they showed why in the fifth inning. Center fielder Dyson ran down a high fly into the left-center gap to deny Didi Gregorius on a play Statcast™ rated as a 5-star catch, the hardest play to make with just a 21-percent catch probability. One out later, left fielder Ben Gamel closed out the frame by running down a drive into the same gap by Jacoby Ellsbury on a 4-star catch with a 41-percent catch probability.