The Mariners (56-76, 28.5 GB in AL West) tried to chip away from an early gap built by the Yankees (86-47, 9.5 GA in AL East), but Seattle fell short and New York pulled out Monday's 5-4 victory, starting the three-game series in the win column. >> Box Score
Five takeaways from Monday's game
1) After answering the call with a home run and an RBI double to highlight his 2-for-3 performance in place of injured Didi Gregorious (right shoulder) during Sunday's 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 1B Mike Ford picked up where he left off against the Mariners. Ford fueled the Yankees' offense, starting early by hitting his seventh homer of the season when he belted a two-run jack to right field in the top of the second inning and broke open a 4-0 lead. His next at-bat two frames later delivered long ball No. 8 on the year, blasting a solo shot to right field in the top of the fourth inning and putting the Yankees ahead 5-3. Out of the nine spot in the lineup, Ford finished with a 2-for-4 night at the plate with three RBI.
2) Before the Yankees created their initial distance from the Mariners with Ford's first blast, they got on the board thanks to SS Gleyber Torres, who broke a scoreless game and busted open a four-run second inning when he sent his solo shot to center field. Moved from 2B for the injured Gregorius, Torres was solid up the middle -- from the field to the lineup -- with a 1-for-4 performance to headline the efforts out of the cleanup spot.
3) LHP J.A. Happ improved to 11-8 on the season -- 3-2 in August -- after his 5.0 innings of work. Happ yielded two hits, one of which went for a home run on 2B Dylan Moore's three-run shot to center field in the bottom of the second inning that cut the Yankees' lead to 4-3. Aside from the long ball, Happ had a bounce-back outing, striking out seven and walking three. He has much more work to do, but it was a step in the right direction for Happ, whose spot in the Yankees' postseason rotation could be in jeopardy.
4) Happ handed the ball over to Aaron Boone and the Yankees' bullpen in the top of the sixth inning, starting with the debut of RHP Cory Gearrin, who had an eventful outing. Gearrin recorded only one out, a strikeout, while giving up a hit and walk before balking and bringing in LHP Nestor Cortes, who dug the Yankees out of trouble. The Mariners continued to chip away in the bottom of the seventh inning when Cortes allowed a solo homer to RF Mallex Smith, but that was the southpaw's only hit allowed. Cortes recorded two strikeouts in 1.2 innings before RHP Tommy Kahnle and LHP Aroldis Chapman (36 saves) closed the door in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to seal the win. Kahnle and Chapman combined for four strikeouts, fanning two apiece.
5) Elsewhere in the Yankees' lineup, 2B DJ LeMahieu had a 2-for-5 performance from the leadoff spot. CF Brett Gardner was among five other Yankees not named Ford, Torres or LeMahieu with a hit. Gardner's knock came on a two-out triple in the top of the seventh inning.
The Yankees look for their third straight win Tuesday at 10:10 p.m. when they send RHP Masahiro Tanaka (9-7, 4.68 ERA) to the mound against Mariners LHP Yusei Kikuchi (5-8, 5.19 ERA).