Benching Alex Rodriguez certainly didn’t turn out to be the answer.
The Yankees, who slumped offensively during their recent five-game trip to Detroit and Toronto, returned home Friday night and were colder than the feelings between Hillary and Bernie’s campaigns, flailing and failing in a 7-1 loss to the Mariners at the Stadium.
“We’ve struggled the last few days with runners on. That’s why we’ve lost a few in a row,’’ Joe Girardi said. “When you’re going through it, it’s no fun.”
The Yankees, who scored a total of seven runs in losing two of three to the Blue Jays, have lost three straight in falling to 4-5. The Mariners are 4-6.
The Yankees, who had six hits, went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, stranding 12. In Seattle starter Nathan Karns’ five innings, the numbers were 0-for-8 and eight.
And it won’t get any easier Saturday afternoon as CC Sabathia takes on Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
The pitching did not distinguish itself, either, as the Mariners scored in each of the final six innings. Luis Severino (0-2, 5.91) struggled for the second straight start, allowing four runs and eight hits in 5 2⁄3 innings. The 22-year-old allowed three runs and a career-worst 10 hits in five innings in his previous start April 8 in Detroit.
Said Girardi, “It’s two starts. It’s not like he’s being pounded.”
Chris Iannetta, who went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, hit a two-run homer in the fifth to make it 3-1. Franklin Gutierrez added two RBIs.
Yankees righthanded reliever Kirby Yates allowed a run in two-thirds of an inning and lefthander Tyler Olson, brought up earlier in the day as Luis Cessa was sent down, allowed two runs in 2 2⁄3 innings. He likely will be headed back to the minors Saturday.
Brett Gardner, coming off a 3-for-16 trip, gave Severino the lead in the bottom of the first, hammering a belt-high 92-mph fastball off the facing of the second deck in right for his first homer of the season.
The Mariners tied it in the fourth. Seth Smith yanked a double past a diving Mark Teixeira with one out, bringing Robinson Cano to the plate. Severino got ahead of the former Yankees second baseman 0-and-2 on a pair of fastballs but Cano, after taking a ball, punched a slider past Starlin Castro to tie it at 1.
The Yankees threatened to retake the lead in the bottom half, putting runners on second and third with none out, but failed to score. After a walk to Dustin Ackley — who served as the DH with the slumping Alex Rodriguez getting the night off — Castro, 2-for-17 on the recent trip, pulled one over the third-base bag for a long single that put runners at the corners. A wild pitch moved Castro to second, but Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury struck out to strand the two runners. The latter two took called third strikes.
Adam Lind led off the fifth with a single and Iannetta got ahead 2-and-0 before pouncing on a 95-mph fastball and driving it to deep left for his second homer of the season.
The Yankees again came away frustrated in the bottom half of the inning. Gardner led off with a single and Teixeira worked his second walk. Brian McCann, who brought a .538 on-base percentage into the evening and was 1-for-2 in the game to that point, struck out. Carlos Beltran flied to the track in center, allowing Gardner to tag and go to third, and Ackley flied to left for the third out, dropping the Yankees to 0-for-8 to that point with runners in scoring position.
Lind’s RBI single with two outs in the sixth made it 4-1 and knocked out Severino.
The Yankees’ futility at the plate continued in the sixth after a double by Gregorius and two walks loaded the bases with two outs. Former Yankees lefthander Vidal Nuño was called on to face Teixeira, who rolled over an off-speed pitch and grounded to short for the third out.
Gutierrez hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh, Iannetta added a two-out RBI single in the eighth and Gutierrez added an RBI double in the ninth.