By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) — George Kirby wanted to atone after getting rocked the last time he stepped on the mound for Seattle. Facing the team he grew up loving only amplified his emotions.
Cal Raleigh made sure Kirby’s terrific performance didn’t go to waste.
Raleigh’s single leading off the bottom of the 10th inning scored pinch-runner Jose Caballero to give the Mariners a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees on Wednesday night.
Seattle avoided a three-game sweep and snapped New York’s four-game win streak thanks largely to a stellar performance from Kirby and Raleigh’s clutch hit.
“It looked like classic George. But you could tell the difference in the bullpen,” Raleigh said. “He was really on his game. He was really sharp. You could tell he was locked in.”
Raleigh had the best view of the biggest moments of the night, catching eight innings of mastery from Kirby and then coming up with another big hit.
Raleigh lined a 2-2 pitch from Ron Marinaccio (2-2) into right field and Caballero scored easily after starting the inning as the runner at second base.
Raleigh has cut down his strikeout rate in the past month making adjustments with two strikes.
“Free outs are strikeouts and when you put the ball in play, good things happen,” Raleigh said. “Choking up helps me handle the bat a little more, gives me more control of the barrel and it helped me out tonight.”
Justin Topa (1-2) pitched around J.P. Crawford’s error on DJ LeMahieu’s grounder leading off the 10th inning as the Yankees failed to score with the bases loaded and one out. Anthony Volpe hit a slow chopper and third baseman Eugenio Suárez was able to get the force out at home plate for the second out. Pinch-hitter Franchy Cordero then struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat.
This scoreless shutout between the teams lacked some of the drama from Aug. 9, 2022 when a wild night saw the teams stay scoreless into the 13th inning before Seattle won 1-0 on Luis Torrens’ RBI single.
But it was another terrific pitching performance on both sides.
Kirby didn’t factor in the decision but pitched one of the best games in his young career throwing eight shutout innings allowing only three hits.
“It felt like a playoff game like atmosphere, the jitters I had. It was great,” Kirby said.
Kirby rebounded from his worst start of the season when he matched career highs with seven earned runs and four home runs allowed in a loss last week to Pittsburgh.
It was the first time in Kirby’s career pitching eight shutout innings and was a welcomed sight for Seattle after watching its pitching staff get battered for 20 runs and 30 hits in the first two games of the series.
Kirby struck out seven and needed 95 pitches to get through eight innings, striking out Kyle Higashioka for his final batter.
“Obviously George is from New York. Everybody that’s ever known George since he’s 5 years old is watching George pitch against the Yankees tonight and George knows that, and that helps fuel the fire,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “And put on top of what happened to him last time out I felt very confident we were going to get the best of George tonight.”
New York starter Clarke Schmidt was nearly the equal of Kirby and thanks to the Yankees bullpen continued to match zeros on the scoreboard. Schmidt threw 5 2/3 innings giving up three hits and striking out seven before turning to the bullpen.
“He was dictating counts. He was staying away from mistakes and really in control of the game,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Wandy Peralta allowed one hit in two innings of relief and Clay Holmes struck out three of the four batters he faced.
Yankees: 1B Anthony Rizzo was out of the lineup for the third straight game with a stiff neck. Manager Aaron Boone said he expects Rizzo to return to the lineup on Friday in Los Angeles.
Seattle recalled RHP Matt Festa from Triple-A Tacoma and optioned RHP Darren McCaughan. McCaughan threw three innings of relief in Tuesday’s game. Festa was optioned by the Mariners to Tacoma on April 9 and made 18 appearances with a 0.43 ERA.
Yankees: Following a day off, the Yankees will open a three-game series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Luis Severino (0-0, 1.59) will make his third start of the season against Clayton Kershaw (6-4, 3.32) for Los Angeles.
Mariners: After an off-day, Seattle opens a road trip in Texas on Friday. Luis Castillo (4-2, 2.69) will get the start opposite Jon Gray (5-1, 2.81) for the Rangers.
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