The Mariano Career Saves Counter: 397
I’m very excited for Rivera to reach the soon to come plateau of 400 career saves.
Let’s talk about the bullpen. Wow! What happened? Villone threw two great innings. Then Proctor and Farnsworth combined on an easy 7th and 8th. Then Rivera erased the need for any 9th frame at all. Ball game over. Yankees win. Thaaaaa Yankees win! Our bullpen does this every so often. They just need consistency. Let’s remember this game later in the season, perhaps even in the playoffs, when we’ll need to feel confident in our bullpen’s ability.
I don’t find myself doubting the Mets at all. They’ve wandered into a 4 game skid just like Boston some how managed a 12 game winning streak. Every decade or so freak things like this happen. No rhyme or reason. I believe, and don’t ask me why, that during their streak the Sox were overachieving while the Mets are currently underachieving. The Mets remain my pick to win the NL. I didn’t predict that before the season, but I am now. By the way, Coco Crisp’s catch against the Mets on Thursday night was fantastic. Reminded me of Melky’s. Same type of situation. They’re both excellent examples of clutch defense at it’s finest.
I was looking at Jamie Moyer’s game log and was happy to see he’s having a very good season. The ERA is at 3.51. Never been much of a strike out pitcher so the Ks are low, but he’s had only one start when he didn’t survive the fifth inning. In June, he’s thrown a complete game, then the 5 frame duel with Minnesota, then a 6 inning start, an 8 inning start and most recently 7 solid innings in which he allowed only 2 runs. He ends June with an ERA of 2.06. In fact, Seattle is finally over .500 and in striking position of the AL West crown. But you know, it’s still too early to be discussing the games-ahead and games-behind stat. The BoSox fans looked pretty perky with their 4 game lead, and then BOOM! they lose to a team below .500 and the Yanks beat the NL’s best team. Just like that it’s down to 3. And we still have 85 games left! I’m very proud of the Yankees for only falling 4 games back during Boston’s smorgasborg. If things didn’t go our way we could be in a 6, 7 or 8 game hole. But at the start of July, no lead under 10 is a safe lead. Even then I don’t doubt one could fight back. But I was thinking about the Pirate’s 13 game losing streak, and was wondering if that ruins all your chances of the postseason. Is it possible to lose 13 straight, fall maybe 7 or 8 games furthur behind and still have hopes for October? Like I said in the previous sentence it’s definitly possible, but I guess a losing streak that long effectively wipes you out of any playoff chances.
My All-Star Selections…
C Joe Mauer, MIN
1b Paul Konerko, CHI
2b Jose Lopez, SEA
3b Mike Lowell, BOS
OF Jermaine Dye, CHI
OF Vernon Wells, TOR
OF Raul Ibanez, SEA
C Johnny Estrada, ARI
1b Nomar Garciaparra, LAD
2b Dan Uggla, FLA
3b David Wright, NYM
SS Omar Vizquel, SF
OF Alfonso Soriano, WAS
OF Matt Holliday, COL
OF Jason Bay, PIT
Todd Jones saved his 21st game. Mariano Rivera saved his 18th. Joe Borowski saved his 15th. Akinori Otsuka saved his 16th. And Josh Fogg pitched 2 hit ball for 9 innings so Colorado didn’t need Fuentes.
Mets 4 – Yankees 3
Bummer. Beat by the long ball. Twice. If there was anything that wasn’t working tonight, it’s whatever was needed to plate a run. A colossal left on base total of 27 will definitly not win many games. I don’t remember ever seeing an LOB by one team in one game that high. 7 of those baserunners were stranded by A-Rod. A-Rod is obviously having trouble at the plate in general. Maybe he needs a sports psychologist. I think there was one year when Smoltz had a psychologist in the dugout whenever he pitched. And within the last year or two A-Rod has expressed gratitude for the therapy that helped him relax and cope with New York. Maybe he needs to see this therapist again.
Anyway, pitching, really good, no? Small allows four runs in the fourth. After the first out of the fifth the Mets go hitless and get only one baserunner from a walk. Small was decent regardless of the 8 baserunners he allowed in 4 innings. Of course not close to a perfect situation but luckily the bullpen kept the game within reach. Now if I knew the offense would end up stranding 27 men on base, it would’ve been ok for the bullpen to serve up a couple fat ones to the Met offense. Because then we’d avoid a situation at Fenway where the lineup scores a dozen runs but the bullpen allows just as many.
Each game in this series was within reach, was so tantalizingly winnable. Overall as a team we looked rather pathetic, but what I want to remember from this series is the performance of two talented closers, Rivera and Wagner. Rivera had an unlucky Friday, then came back and had a lights out Saturday. Wagner had a lights out Friday, a tough Saturday and a lights out Sunday. Like I said in my last post, Rivera was the best I’ve seen him all year on Saturday. I haven’t seen Wagner enough but he looked superb. His slider tonight was particularly frightening.
I think the substitutes we’re seeing most often – Cairo, Cabrera and Stinnett – are adjusting fairly well and though no bench player can immediatly fill the giant void left by a run producer like Matsui or Sheffield, I am impressed by their spirit and attitude. I think they’re still adapting to playing everyday and I hope they have some big games soon.
Even though this first installment of the Subway Series was a disappointment, and I know this means little when games are lost, but a number of players should be commended. So I look on the bright side and applaud Damon for his 3 hit night and sprint to first base, Jeter for going 6 for 15 with 3 RBIs, Bernie for his 3 hit night and Phillips for that game winning hit. Recognition also goes to Cairo for swiping two bags and scoring the winning run in game 2, Cabrera for drawing some decisive walks and making the pitcher work hard, and Rivera for rebounding after Friday to dominate two innings the next day.
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.
Yankees @ Mets, R.J. v. Jeremi Gonzales
Top 1st: Damon doubles. Jeter drives him home. Jeter steals second. Giambi walks. Stepping on the pressure pedal. Moving like clockwork.
A-Rod pulls one down the left field line. Jeter scores.
First Out: A-Rod tagged sliding into second (Sterling says the Mets catch a break, he was safe).
Giambi’s standing on third.
Second Out: Posada grounds out.
Giambi stays at third.
CANO DOUBLES, scoring the Giambino.
BERNIE DOUBLES, scoring Cano.
Cabrera is walked intentionally. R.J. takes the box with a 4 run lead.
Third Out: R.J. strikes out.
4 RUNS, 5 HITS
Bottom 1st: Reyes walks. Lo Duca drops a single into right. Reyes hustles to third.
BELTRAN TAKES R.J. DEEP
Looks like we have a high scoring game on our hands. That lead was sweet while it lasted.
Delgado singles. Wright has a full count and…
First Out: Strikes out.
Second Out: Nady strikes out.
Third Out: Kazuo Matsui lines out to left.
3 RUNS, 3 HITS
Top 2nd: Damon leads off again.
First Out: Pops up on the first pitch.
We can’t let Jeremi have a quick inning.
Second Out: Jeter grounds out.
Third Out: Giambi called out on strikes.
Jeremi threw eight pitches. We helped him out there.
Bottom 2nd: Stinnett is replacing Posada. Don’t know why. Jorge just walked slowly back to the dugout and removed his gear. Torre is chatting with Cashman. Hopefully this isn’t a serious injury. Remember, Posada didn’t start yesterday.
Valentin has a full count and…he walks. R.J. is going to have a huge pitch total by the 4th. Jeremi puts down a sac bunt…
First Out: thrown out at first and Valentin advances to second.
Second Out: Reyes pops up to Jeter.
Valentin steals third with no throw.
Third Out: Lo Duca grounds out.
R.J.’s thrown 51 pitches.
Top 3rd: A-Rod draws a leadoff walk. HIT AND RUN. Stinnett singles. A-Rod to third.
The Mets broadcasters say Posada left with tightness in his back.
First Out: Cano flies to deep, deep center. A-Rod tags and scores. Stinnett remains at first.
Second Out: Bernie strikes out.
Melky singles on a hard hit up the middle. R.J. is batting. He reaches on an infield single. BASES LOADED, with two outs and Damon in the box.
Third Out: Damon flies out.
1 RUN, 3 HITS
First Out: Strike three on Beltran.
Second Out: Delgado grounds out.
Wright singles. NADY HOMERS. R.J. … nooooooooooo!
Third Out: Kazuo Matsui flies to center. R.J.’s pitch count is 70.
2 RUNS, 2 HITS
Top 4th: JETER DOUBLES. Very good. MVP! He’s filling a huge void.
Willie Randolph signals for the southpaw. Darren Oliver takes the mound. Giambi HIT BY PITCH.
Home 2 on, 0 out
First Out: STRIKE THREEEEEE! Come on A-Rod.
Home 2 on, 1 out
Stinnett singles and we retake the lead! Giambi stops at second. Jeter scores.
Second Out: Cano flies out.
Bernie reaches on an infield single. BASES LOADED for Melky.
Third Out: He grounds out.
1 RUN, 2 HITS
Bottom 4th: R.J.’s still on the mound.
First Out: Valentin grounds out, A-Rod to Giambi.
Second Out: Oliver strikes out.
Reyes singles up the middle. Takes a wide turn around first, jogs back.
During the at-bat Reyes is almost picked off! Caught between first and second. Cano chased him back to first instead of throwing to R.J. Otherwise he would’ve been out.
Reyes steals second. Lo Duca walks.
Third Out: Beltran flies to center.
Top 5th: R.J. is batting. I guess we’ll see him in the bottom half. His pitch count is at 87!
First Out: Strike three on R.J.
Second Out: Damon grounds out.
Third Out: Jeter lines out.
Bottom 5th: I don’t think R.J. will finish this inning.
First Out: Delgado strikes out. K #5
Wright drops a single into right.
Second Out: Nady grounds out, Cano to Giambi. Wright advances to second.
Kazuo Matsui singles. Wright scores.
6-6 We start all over again. R.J. is making this difficult. And A-Rod bobbles a ground ball! Valentin reaches on the error. Chris Woodward is pinch-hitting for Oliver the pitcher.
Third Out: Woodward grounds out.
R.J.’s thrown 113. Erickson’s in the bullpen.
1 RUN – 2 HITS
Top 6th: Run scoring time. Giambi leads off. Aaron Heilman’s on the mound.
First Out: Giambi strikes out. Bummer.
Second Out: A-Rod flies out to deep, deep right. Double bummer.
Third Out: Stinnett grounds out. Triple bummer.
Bottom 6th: Proctor takes the mound. Reyes walks.
First Out: Reyes caught stealing second. Huge play!
Second Out: Lo Duca flies out.
Third Out: Beltran grounds out.
First Out: Cano Ks.
Second Out: Bernie grounds out.
Third Out: Melky pops up.
Three up, three down.
First Out: Delgado grounds out.
Second Out: Wright Ks.
Third Out: Nady pops up to the catcher.
Top 8th: Alright, top of the order. We gotta score. Kevin Reese pinch-hits for Proctor.
First Out: He grounds out on the first pitch.
Second Out: Damon strikes out. Oh my.
Third Out: Jeter grounds out.
Wow. Still tied, 6-6.
Bottom 8th: Farnsworth comes in.
First Out: Kazuo Matsui thrown out bunting on the first pitch.
Second Out: Valentin flies out to center.
Cliff Floyd pinch-hits for Heilman.
Third Out: Floyd flies to left.
Top 9th: Wagner enters to pitch. Alright Giambi, I demand a homerun.
First Out: He strikes out.
Second Out: A-Rod strikes out.
Third Out: Stinnett strikes out.
Bottom 9th: Rivera enters. He’s got to deal with the top of the order. I don’t like this move. I think Torre needs to use Farnsworth for both the 8th and 9th in these situations. Cairo replaces Giambi. I don’t see this as beneficial either.
First Out: Reyes grounds out, breaking his bat on Rivera’s cutter.
Lo Duca DOUBLES!
Second Out: BELTRAN Ks on the cutter!
They’re intentionally walking Delgado to face David Wright.
Wright hits one off the centerfield wall. Lo Duca scores. Bummer. Bummer.