Yankees hoping upon hope

Yankees hoping upon hope

SEATTLE -- The Yankees don't need to be reminded of the uphill task that still waits them. But if they did, they could find evidence at every Major League stadium -- and some can't ignore it.

As the Yankees try to tackle the task of winning a series against the Mariners at Safeco Field, they can continually find out-of-town results frozen with the time difference from the East Coast.

Try as they might, the Boston scores beckon from the electronic feeds. Johnny Damon admitted to looking up at the boards and realizing the Red Sox had won again on Friday, pushing the Yankees 8 1/2 games back for the American League Wild Card with 21 games left to play.

"The number of games doesn't count us out yet," Damon said. "We need to keep going out there and playing hard. You're still wearing the Yankee uniform and that commands a lot of respect and a certain kind of attitude."

One night after manager Joe Girardi admitted that winning series isn't quite enough, the Yankees will try to make lemonade by pushing for two out of three against the Mariners.

Friday's 3-1 victory over New York was Seattle's first this season, and the Yankees would like to keep it that way. The goal continues to be aiming toward making a Sept. 26-28 series at Fenway Park meaningful and relevant.

"This is a team that we've had success against and we need to continue to do that," Girardi said. "It's an average of a game a week. One week you might pick up two or three, another week you may not. You have to keep winning."

It's a run that the Yankees have not yet been able to string together this season, and Andy Pettitte said he isn't quite sure why.

"It's like we've been saying -- I look at our team and I look at our lineup, and I feel like I think this team should win," Pettitte said. "I feel like this team should beat up on people. It's frustrating that we're not. As a group, I think we need to be better."

The Yankees remain buoyed somewhat by hearing the fireside tales of the 2007 Rockies and Phillies, two clubs that conquered tall odds to realize October dreams.

"We've got to win," Derek Jeter said. "Basically, that's all you can do, is come here and try to win games. Our game is to come here and we need to string together a streak. We've done it. We've just got to do it again right now. We don't have the luxury of losing too many games."

If nothing else, the coolness of a Seattle September may serve as something of a wake-up call for the Bombers.

"There's no time to be tired," Girardi said. "There's a freshness here because it's cool. When you have that cool air, your body feels different."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Sidney Ponson (7-5, 5.13 ERA)
Ponson had his fourth consecutive subpar outing in a 13-9 win over Detroit on Monday at Comerica Park. He was handed an 11-2 lead, but he couldn't get an out in the fourth inning, allowing seven runs (six earned) and nine hits in three-plus innings with one walk and one strikeout. He said he lost the strike zone, got behind, 2-0, and got hit hard when he threw the ball down the middle. He was also hit in the pitching hand by the leadoff hitter in the fourth but said that had nothing to do with his inability to get another out.

SEA: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (4-2, 3.56 ERA)
The Australian left-hander picked up his second consecutive win with another quality start on Sunday against the Indians. Rowland-Smith allowed two runs (one earned) in 6 1/3 innings to help the Mariners sweep the Indians. He struck out just two and walked one, primarily forcing the Tribe to pound the ball into the ground. In his past two outings, Rowland-Smith has allowed four runs over 13 1/3 innings. In three relief appearances against the Yankees this season, Rowland-Smith is 0-0 with a 4.91 ERA over 3 2/3 innings. Last season, he picked up a win against the Bronx Bombers after throwing four scoreless innings of relief.

Wilson Betemit's pinch-hit double in the eighth inning on Friday facing Brandon Morrow made Betemit 6-for-21 as a pinch-hitter this season, the most hits and at-bats of any Yankees pinch-hitter in 2008. ... Ponson has not lasted 4 2/3 innings in any of his past three starts after lasting at least five innings in 16 of his first 18 starts of the season. ... The Yankees have won 11 of 19 and are 25-21 since the All-Star break. ... New York is 16-11 vs. the AL West. ... Cody Ransom has reached base in eight of his first 10 plate appearances as a Yankee. He became the first Yankee to homer in his first two plate appearances, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

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Up next
• Sunday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 17-7, 3.39) at Mariners (Carlos Silva, 4-14, 6.53), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Monday: Yankees (Carl Pavano, 2-0, 4.20) at Angels (Jered Weaver, 10-10, 4.42), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Yankees (Darrell Rasner, 5-10, 5.43) at Angels (TBD), 10:05 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.