Mussina pitched a great game. Perhaps not his best, but 7 innings with 2 earned runs should’ve been enough to make him a 7 game winner. His ERA stayed at 2.56 and he collected 7 strikeouts without allowing a walk. That performance would’ve recieved a standing ovation at home. The 4 errors we made helped out the Mets who only got 5 hits. I don’t know if Pedro was just dominant (7 innings, 8 Ks, 4 hits) or if our lineup was mitigated by Cairo, Cabrera, Stinnett and the pitcher slot.
Our play was downright pathetic early in the game. No timely hitting, no hard hit balls and a couple of errors made it very frustrating to watch. Meanwhile Mussina was busy keeping the score within reach.
So what happens? Wagner enters the ninth with a 4 run lead and the Yankees faced the possibility of their first shut out this season. Wagner pitched an inning last night, striking out the side on like 12 pitches.
Well, that didn’t happen again. Two hits, three walks and a hit batter equalled the score. Giambi led off with a basehit. I was surprised Joe didn’t put in a pinch runner. He often does if Giambi reaches in the late innings. A huge at-bat belonged to Melky, who drew a walk to load the bases with one out.
A few batters later Damon stepped in with the bases loaded and still one out. The score was 4-3. He hit a chopper to short but beat the throw to first. Damon’s speed saved the day. Tie game.
Proctor pitches the ninth. Rivera enters in the tenth.
Cairo walks to lead off the eleventh and steals second and third. Two outs later Phillips (replacing Giambi on defense an inning ago) singles and the comeback is complete!
Rivera pitches an awesome bottom half to secure the win.
I think the last two innings were Rivera’s best this year. Rivera is my favorite Yankee. The closing pitcher’s role is my favorite position and I’m a fan of any great closer (including Papelbon). So sometimes when Rivera has a rough inning, allowing baserunners or even runs, I long for the days when he was literally an automatic three up, three down machine. I listened to last night’s game on the radio so I didn’t realize how close Wright’s winning hit was to Damon. Mariano was unlucky that Damon couldn’t reach the ball in time. He didn’t pitch badly. If my memory is correct I believe the last out of the 2000 World Series was Piazza’s deep fly ball off Rivera. I recall that split second when everything stopped, my heart sinking because it looked like a homerun. But it wasn’t, just a towering fly ball that Bernie squeezed the leather on. He was lights out again today, strikeing out the side in the eleventh. You could see the pain on the Mets’ faces when lefties took a huge cut and got nothin’ but air when that cutter dove inside. Cliff Floyd hit a number of line drives way foul as Rivera continued his assult on that inside corner. And the righties were just lost, hacking at space, looking for the ball and not finding it. I think that’s what guys mean when they say, "Rivera breaks bats and spirits", because unlike some closers who just throw 99mph rising fastballs, Rivera’s finesse and movement results in embarrasing swings most of the time. It was awesome to see Rivera wield that control against a strong lineup. And I think this comeback might’ve been sweeter than Posada’s walk off just because we beat the Mets and we played so sloppy for the first 8 innings.
Even though Mussina doesn’t get a W he made this win possible. He gave us the chance. After Mussina we can be grateful for the patient eyes against Wagner who was touching 97, 98 mph. And finally thank you Damon for running fast. I don’t think anyone else on this team could’ve beaten that throw. Maybe Jeter.
Other good news: Kevin Reese got the first hit of his major league career.