Yanks shut out in opener at Seattle
Rasner's solid effort unsupported; Abreu, Cano remain lost
SEATTLE -- The Yankees had no answers for left-hander Jarrod Washburn and the Mariners on Friday, which may open the door for a whole new wave of questions.
Limited to just six hits, the Yankees' offense went listlessly and quickly in a 3-0 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field, suffering a defeat in the opening game of a nine-game road trip.
The Yankees (16-18) fell back to two games under .500 with the loss to Seattle, marked by a sparse offensive attack against Washburn, who stifled New York's offense over eight shutout innings.
One week after taking a loss to the Yankees in New York, Washburn used his cutter, slider and changeup to command an offense that may have been suffering a hangover of sorts from a 12-run pasting on Thursday at Yankee Stadium and an ensuing cross-country flight.
"He deserved to win the game," said Johnny Damon, who served as the Yankees' designated hitter. "He didn't make too many mistakes. We swung the bats OK, but it seemed like all of the times that we did, it was right at somebody. It was just one of those nights when nothing went our way."
"It was obvious that Washburn was on his A-game," said third baseman Alex Rodriguez. "We just couldn't get anything going."
The Yankees played on without Jason Giambi, who had been in manager Joe Torre's original lineup as the DH but was scratched when a pregame batting-practice session revealed continuing issues with a bone spur and plantar fasciitis in the slugger's left foot.
Giambi is expected to play on Saturday at Seattle, but his presence alone would not have cured what ailed the Yankees against Washburn's dominant performance.
Second baseman Robinson Cano took an 0-for-4 collar and has just three hits in his last 35 at-bats, while right fielder Bobby Abreu continued to signify the Yankees' offensive struggles by also going hitless in four at-bats.
The Yankees had moved Abreu to the No. 2 spot in the lineup in hopes of rejuvenating his stagnant bat, but Abreu now has just one hit in his last 14 at-bats, and Torre said he would need to sleep on Abreu's situation in hopes of finding a solution.
"I don't remember Bobby swinging and missing as often as he has here lately," Torre said.
Rookie right-hander Darrell Rasner must have been expecting more power behind him as he made his fifth start for the Yankees this season, offering what should have been enough to walk away with a lead on many nights.
"He certainly pitched well enough," Torre said. "He gave us a chance to win the game."
Catcher Jorge Posada opined that Rasner may have made just one bad pitch, a fourth-inning offering to Kenji Johjima that the Seattle catcher deposited into the left-field seats for a two-run homer.
The effort came five days after Rasner served as part of a string of strong pitching performances from Yankees pitchers in New York, hurling 5 2/3 innings of shutout, three-hit ball at Seattle. The second time around didn't quite play out the same way.
Rasner (1-2) was touched for seven hits in a 78-pitch effort. He walked three and struck out one.
"I wasn't as sharp today," Rasner said. "I just wasn't really executing my pitches."
The Johjima home run, the backstop's fourth of the season, extended the Mariners' lead after Rasner had seen Seattle open the scoring in the third inning.
In that frame, Ichiro Suzuki laced a one-out double down the left-field line and scored on Raul Ibanez's two-out hit to right, ripped on a hanging curveball off the glove of first baseman Josh Phelps.
With the way Washburn was dominating the Yankees' lineup, that play on its own would have been enough to hand Rasner a loss.
"I think they're going to score a lot of runs this year," Rasner said. "I don't think that's going to be an issue."
Washburn (3-3) rebounded after losing to the Yankees last week in New York, walking one and striking out a season-high six batters in his eight scoreless innings before yielding to closer J.J. Putz in the ninth inning.
"We never mounted any kind of a threat, which is unusual for us," Torre said.
The Yankees seemed inclined to chalk the evening off as Washburn's night, as the left-hander lowered his career ERA against New York to 2.47 (19 earned runs, spanning 69 innings). Washburn's ERA is the lowest of any active pitcher with at least five starts against the Yankees.
"I thought Washburn had a second gear tonight," Damon said. "When he needed to make a pitch, he gave it a little more. The ball would either cut a little more or run to the lefties a little more. He pitched a good game."
Torre said that the team's lack of deep at-bats in the contest was a concern. As Torre noted, every time he looked up from the bench, it seemed that Washburn had worked his way ahead in the count.
More to the point, at 2 hours, 19 minutes, the game sped along, especially near the conclusion, when Washburn retired nine of the last 10 batters to face him. The final 11 Yankees batters did not reach base, including the three in Putz's perfect ninth inning.
"Look at the time of game," Torre said. "It didn't take long, our at-bats."
Scott Proctor threw a season-high two innings and Brian Bruney turned in one frame of relief for the Yankees, who were shut out for just the second time in 34 games this season.
Posada had two of New York's six hits. Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to seven games with a fifth-inning single off Washburn. The shortstop has hit safely in 27 of his last 28 games.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.