SEATTLE -- On paper it looked like a mismatch: Yanks vs. Mariners, Kuroda vs. Bonderman. But as sometimes happens, the cow got loose and beat up the butcher. The Yankees went down, 4-1, to a starter who hadn't won in nearly three years and hadn't beaten them in more than five. As they say, that's why they play the games.
What it means: That the Yankees fail to win their fifth straight, which would have matched their longest winning streak of the season. The good news? With the Red Sox rained out tonight, they only lose a half-game in the standings and now sit two games back in the AL East.
Jeremy Wonderman: Mariners starter Jeremy Bonderman, who had last started on June 2, and before that on Oct. 10, 2010 due to three shoulder and elbow surgeries, started out shaky but finished strong, allowing a first-inning run but then blanking the Yankees for the next five innings. Bonderman held the Yankees to just three hits and earned his first victory since Sept. 8, 2010. And after being bombed for seven earned runs in less than five innings on June 2, he slashed his ERA in half, from 13.50 to 6.75, with his six innings of one-run ball tonight.
Anti-Hiro: Hiroki Kuroda, who was the Yankees' best starting pitcher for the first six weeks of the season, suddenly has lost three of his past four and has not won since May 17. He went 6 1/3 tonight, allowing eight hits -- matching his season high -- four earned runs and three walks, two of which were extremely costly.
Walking the plank: Before tonight's first inning, Kuroda had not walked a batter since May 17, but he walked two in the fourth inning tonight, leading directly to the Mariners scoring four two-out runs. After Michael Morse doubled over Brett Gardner's head with two out, Kuroda lost the plate, putting Nick Franklin and Kelly Shoppach on and loading the bases for Brendan Ryan, who dumped one in front of Ichiro Suzuki in right to drive in the first two. Then, Jason Bay smoked one into left-center, driving in two more and extending Seattle's lead to 4-1.
Scratching and clawing: The Yankees got a first-inning run, small-ball style, when Gardner led off the game with a double, advanced to third on a groundout by Mark Teixeira, and scored on a groundout by Travis Hafner. Unfortunately, that was as big as the Yankees' offense got.
Vernon down the house: Vernon Wells continued to struggle early in the game, reaching base in the second on Ryan's error at shortstop, but managing to get himself picked off second base, and then getting burned by Nick Franklin, who lined one over his head in left for a double in the bottom of the inning. Luckily for Wells and the Yankees, Kuroda struck out Shoppach to end the inning, but it was not a great start for a player whose batting average has plummeted to .236.