Carlos Santana’s homer rallies Mariners for 4-3 win over Yankees

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SEATTLE — Carlos Santana snapped an 0-for-17 slump with a go-ahead two-run homer during Seattle’s three-run seventh inning, and the Mariners rallied to beat the slumping New York Yankees 4-3 on Wednesday.

Aaron Judge hit his major league-leading 45th homer of the season for the Yankees, who have lost eight of 10.

Thanks to two tense, one-run victories, Seattle took two of three from New York for the second straight week to win the season series 4-2. The Mariners won 1-0 in 13 innings on Tuesday night. With the Yankees leading the AL East and Seattle in the first AL wild-card spot, the teams could meet again in the playoffs.

Seattle has not lost a series to a team other than AL West-leading Houston since mid-June, when it dropped four of five to the Los Angeles Angels.

Kyle Higashioka hit a go-ahead, two-run homer on the 115th and final pitch from Seattle starter Robbie Ray in the seventh to snap a 19-inning scoreless streak for the Yankees, and Judge’s longball against Penn Murfee (3-0) made it 3-1 later in the frame.

Murfee then retired D.J. LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo, Diego Castillo pitched a perfect eighth, and Paul Sewald worked the ninth for his 15th save.

Ray and New York starter Nestor Cortes were both terrific, following standout performances Tuesday night from the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and the Mariners’ Luis Castillo.

Cortes struck out 10 and didn’t allow a hit until Sam Haggerty homered off the left-field foul pole with one out in the sixth. He was lifted after giving up consecutive singles to Ty France and Mitch Haniger to open the seventh. Haniger’s hit scored France to make it 3-2.

Albert Abreu (2-2) struck out Eugenio Suarez but left a changeup in the middle of the plate and Santana didn’t miss, hitting his seventh home run since being acquired by Seattle in June.

Ray allowed three hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven but walked a season-high five.

ROSTER SHUFFLE

Seattle optioned OF/DH Kyle Lewis and LHP Brandon Bernardino to Triple-A Tacoma to clear roster spots for the return of Diego Castillo and utilityman Dylan Moore.

Lewis, the 2020 AL rookie of the year, struggled badly at the plate after returning from a concussion. Lewis was hitting .098 with 18 strikeouts in his previous 46 plate appearances.

“Kyle’s tool is the bat and it has been a struggle since he came back up here. Recently, the strikeout has crept in. I do think there’s a role for him on our club. But you need to be productive,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.

Seattle is also moving RHP Chris Flexen to the bullpen. The Mariners picked up a sixth starter when they acquired Luis Castillo at the trade deadline. Servais said Flexen may come back into the rotation later in the season as Seattle monitors the innings of rookie George Kirby.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: Rizzo returned to the lineup after missing the previous five games with lower back issues.

Mariners: Seattle remains hopeful CF Julio Rodriguez (wrist) will be activated off the injured list before Friday’s series opener in Texas. … SS J.P. Crawford was given the day off.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Domingo German (1-2, 5.09 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game series at Boston on Friday.

Mariners: Seattle has not announced its rotation for the series at Texas that begins Friday.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.