SEATTLE -- The Yankees couldn't come through with the hit they needed to topple Felix Hernandez on Tuesday, and they suffered an even bigger blow as Alex Rodriguez fractured his left hand being hit by a pitch.
The three-time American League MVP was drilled by an errant 88-mph Hernandez offering in the eighth inning and could watch the next six to eight weeks from the disabled list. The Yankees went on to drop a 4-2 decision to the Mariners at Safeco Field.
"It's very unfortunate. It's a big loss," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "Alex had been really swinging the bat well lately. You hoped he was going to go on one of those tears where he was going to carry you for a couple weeks, but now we're going to have to find someone else to do that."
Rodriguez suffered a non-displaced fracture of his fifth metacarpal and will be placed on the disabled list before Wednesday's series finale with Seattle. He will return to New York with the club and is scheduled to be examined by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad on Thursday.
"He's upset. He wants to be out there," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But we're not going to have him, and we're going to have to find a way."
The injury was arguably the biggest blow of an underwhelming West Coast trip, beginning with a four-game sweep by the A's in Oakland. New York's arrival in Seattle brought the addition of outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who doubled and was hit by a pitch in three at-bats on Tuesday, but the subtraction of Rodriguez impacts the Yankees more.
"It's huge," said Eric Chavez, who could see increased playing time at third base in the wake of Rodriguez's injury. "We've had our share of injuries. Al is so important to our team. This is definitely going to hurt."
Freddy Garcia permitted three runs in a respectable 7 1/3 outing, settling in to retire 15 straight batters until being lifted with one out in the eighth inning.
"I feel really good today. I got everything going right now," Garcia said. "I started to always make my pitch, and they gave me a favor; they start swinging the bats real aggressive. For me, when that happens, it's good because I can locate all my pitches and get the job done more easy."
Michael Saunders connected for a solo home run in the first inning, his 10th of the season, and Seattle scored twice in the third inning on Jesus Montero's run-scoring single and a John Jaso sacrifice fly.
Garcia settled in from there, wrapping up a five-hit, eight-strikeout performance with no walks. Four other Yankees hurlers appeared as the eighth inning turned ugly, with Kyle Seager bringing home an insurance run for Seattle with a weak bases-loaded roller to third base facing Boone Logan.
"Saunders had hit [Garcia] pretty hard, so I figured with the lefties coming up I would just bring in my lefty and then go from there," said Girardi, who first called upon Clay Rapada. "We got in trouble because we walked people, and then you get a check swing for a hit. What are you going to do?"
Hernandez always seems to be able to offer a good challenge, and that again proved to be true.
Curtis Granderson struck the first blow against King Felix, slugging a solo home run in the first inning, Granderson's team-leading 27th of the season. But the Yankees were turned aside from there, as Hernandez showed a knack for wriggling out of damaging situations.
Hernandez induced a pair of inning-ending double plays and pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning by striking out Raul Ibanez and getting Chavez to fly out to center field. Hernandez also survived Ichiro's leadoff double in the fifth, stranding his former teammate at third base.
Teixeira lined out hard to center field for an eighth-inning sacrifice fly, driving in Derek Jeter as scoring concluded against Hernandez. He permitted two runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out four with a wild pitch.
"My command was off the whole game," Hernandez said. "I don't know what was going on, I couldn't even throw a strike. I was up a little bit. But you know, when I get in trouble, I just make good pitches."
In an odd quirk, all three of the hitters Hernandez plunked in his wild outing -- Ichiro, Jeter and Rodriguez -- own more than 2,500 hits in the Majors. The Yankees were adamant that they did not believe any of the drillings were intentional. Ichiro took a pitch off his right foot, Jeter was hit in the left shoulder and Rodriguez couldn't get away from a changeup.
"He hit Alex with a changeup," Girardi said. "In that situation I don't think he's trying to hit anyone on purpose. You wouldn't want to put the tying run on base anyway. It happens, it's part of the game, and it's unfortunate that Alex hurt his hand."
They would agree, however, that the lasting effects could be costly for a Yankees club that -- as recently as 24 hours prior -- had thought it had imported an important complementary piece for its October run. Suddenly, the Yankees have to navigate yet another challenge in getting through their summer.
"You know, you find out how good you are," Jeter said. "Other guys are going to have to step up. We can't feel sorry for ourselves, because no one else is going to. It'll be a challenge, but it's a challenge with all the injuries we've had this year."