Say your prayers little one
Don’t forget my son
To include everyone
I tuck you in, warm within
Keep you free from sin
‘Til the sandman he comes
Sleep with one eye open
Gripping your pillow tight
Take my hand
We’re off to never-never land
“Enter Sandman” – Metallica
YANKEES 6, TWINS 4
He entered the game to the strains of Metallica’s classic rock anthem on Monday afternoon with 601 saves. Three consecutive outs later he possessed the undisputed crown of the greatest closer in major-league baseball history and an all-time record of 602 saves.
Mariano Rivera, at age 41 and still getting hitters out with essentially just one pitch, was congratulated by his Yankee teammates and pushed back onto the mound to take in a rousing standing ovation for his historic achievement from the noticeably smaller crowd than the 40,045 who paid to see the game at Yankee Stadium.
Rivera’s historic save passing Trevor Hoffman’s previous standard of 601 capped a one-game makeup game with Minnesota in which New York took an early 5-0 lead and relied on its vaunted bullpen and its premiere closer to claim a victory.
“For the first time in my career, I am on the mound alone.”
– Mariano Rivera
The Yankees started the sunny afternoon in the Bronx by clouding the mind of Twins rookie starter Scott Diamond.
Curtis Granderson started it off by following a Derek Jeter leadoff single with his 41st home run of the season, which landed in the bleachers over the right-centerfield auxiliary scoreboard. It was Granderson’s 16th home run of the season off a left-hander, which leads the major leagues.
The Yankees added a run in the second on a one-out single to left by Russell Martin that scored Nick Swisher.
They added a pair of runs in the third on a one-out walk to Alex Rodriguez, an RBI triple to center by Robinson Cano and an RBI single to center by Swisher.
Diamond shone more like cubic zirconium. He gave up five runs on 10 hits and three walks and he struck out just one in his four innings of work.
However, the Twins began to creep back into the game against veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Burnett breezed nicdely through the first three innings, having shut out the Twins on three hits and seven strikeouts. But, as what has often happened to Burnett over the past two seasons, the wheels started falling the wagon in the fourth inning.
Chris Parmalee led off the fourth with a homer to right-center. Burnett then gave up singles to Danny Valencia and Brian Dinkelman, retired the next two batters and then walked Twins No. 9 hitter Rene Rivera, who entered the game with a .146 batting average.
Burnett escaped further damage by fanning Ben Revere swinging on a 3-2 pitch.
But Burnett immediately found himself in more hot water in the fifth. Trevor Plouffe led off with a single and Michael Cuddyer followed with a two-run home run to right-center. After Burnett allowed Parmalee to double to center, manager Joe Girardi pulled his mercurial headache of a starter.
The Twins were able to tack on a another run when reliever Cory Wade walked Valencia and Dinkelman singled sharply to right to load the bases. Luke Hughes followed with a slow infield roller that Jeter fielded and retired Hughes as Parmalee scored to bring the Twins to within a run down at 5-4 before Wade escaped further damage by striking out Joe Benson and Rivera.
Bunrett was charged with all four runs on nine hits and one walk and he fanned nine batters in 4-plus innings of work.
The Yankees tacked on an insurance run in the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Rodriguez off reliever Kyle Waldrop that scored Granderson with his major-league-leading 133rd run of the season.
The Yankees’ bullpen quartet of Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Rivera pitched a perfect 3 1/3 innings of relief to close out the Twins.
Of course, the occasion was lent a bit of historic flair when Rivera entered the game in the ninth needing just three outs to earn his 43rd save of the season in 48 chances and to stamp himself as the greatest closer of all time by setting the career saves mark.
Rivera did it just as he has done for the past 16 seasons as the Yankees’ closer: with a minimum of pitches and with cool efficiency.
Rivera induced Plouffe into a routine groundout to Cano at second. He then got Cuddyer to hit a routine fly to right that defensive replacement Chris Dickerson cradled in his glove for the second out.
He then put Parmalee into an 0-2 hole and the rookie lefty-swinging slugger watched helplessly as Rivera’s 13th offering of the inning cut crisply over the outside corner and home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck threw back his right arm and punched out Parmalee.
And Rivera stood proudly to bask in the glory of one the greatest achievements of his storied and surely Hall-of-Fame career.
With the victory the Yankees have improved the season record to 92-60. They are five games ahead of the stumbling Boston Red Sox in the American League East and they have reduced their magic number to clinch the division to five games with only 10 left to play.
- Look out, Granderson is hot again. In his last two games, he is 4-for-7 with two home runs, a double, a single, three walks, five runs scored and four RBIs. Granderson had been mired in a prolonged slump at the plate this month. He was 9-for-51 (.176) with just one home run and four RBIs until he went 3-for-3 with a home run against the Blue Jays on Saturday.
- Cano’s RBI triple in the third inning was his seventh triple of the season, which ties a career high. Cano has 16 RBIs in the 18 games he played in this month and now has easily set a career high in RBIs with 119. His previous high was 109 runs driven in during his breakout 2010 season.
- Jeter was 3-for-4 with two singles and a double and scored a run. Jeter has failed to get a hit in only one game in which he played in September. He is hitting an even .300 for the month. The three-hit game raised his batting average to .296 and if he hits .300 for the season, it will be the 12th season he has reached that mark. He has failed to hit .300 or better in only four seasons. In those seasons he hit .291 (1997), .297 (2002), .292 (2004) and .270 (2010).
- Burnett is quickly wearing on the nerves of Girardi with his “Good A.J., Bad A.J.” act. Burnett was not pleased when Girardi pulled him from the game in the fifth inning with a man on and no outs and the Yankees clinging to a 5-3 lead. Girardi said it was obvious that Burnett did not have the same stuff he had in the first three innings and he defended his decision . Burmett has only two victories in his last 14 starts.
The transmission of this report was delayed.
YANKEES 7, BLUE JAYS 6
Mariano Rivera not only reached a personal milestone for himself by recording his 601st save, he rescued a Yankee team that was just happy to get out of Rogers Centre in Toronto with a victory.
Rivera managed to tie Trevor Hoffman for the all-time saves lead and the Yankees got a pair of huge home runs from a returning Alex Rodriguez and a slumping Curtis Granderson to overcome a 6-1 deficit and rebound to beat the Blue Jays on Saturday.
The victory by the Yankees, combined with the 4-3 defeat of the Boston Red Sox by the Tampa Bay Rays, has reduced the team’s magic number to clinch a payoff spot to four and their magic number to clinch the American League East is now eight.
As the early innings unfolded, it looked as if starter Bartolo Colon and the Yankees were going to get crushed by the Blue Jays. Colon was tagged for four runs in the second inning, keyed by RBI doubles by Colby Rasmus and Jose Molina.
The Blue Jays added two more runs and chased Colon in the fourth on a two-run double of the right-field wall by Mike McCoy.
Colon gave up six runs on seven hits and a walk and struck out three in four innings.
Meanwhile, the Yankees could not get a rally going against 21-year-old Blue Jays right-hander Henderson Alvarez.
They did have a promising comeback going in the fourth inning when Granderson opened the frame with a walk and Mark Teixeira doubled to the gap in left-center to advance Granderson to third. Granderson then scored when Robinson Cano lofted a sacrifice fly to left-field, which was dropped for an error by Adam Loewen. Teixiera advanced to third and Cano reached second.
Then the Yankees, who have had all sorts of problems scoring runs on this road trip, short-circuited the rally with a colossal base-running blunder.
Nick Swisher smacked a drive into center that was caught by Rasmus. For some reason, Cano ran around third base and passed Teixeira as he was tagging up to score what would have the second run of the inning. Cano was declared out and the Blue Jays escaped the the threat only giving up the one run.
But the Yankees long-slumbering bats awoke in a big way in the sixth. Granderson, who entered the game hitting .176 for the month, blasted a ground-rule double to right. Teixeira followed with a single to center in which Rasmus bobbled to allow Granderson to score and Teixeira to reach second.
Cano was then hit in the right hip with a pitch to put two runners on with no outs.
Rodriguez, who had missed the team’s previous eight games resting a sore left thumb, rocketed a first-pitch fastball into the left-field bleachers for a three-run home run that brought the Yankees to within a single run. For Rodriguez it was his 16th home run of the season and his first using a unique ring on his bat to protect the thumb and a new batting grip separating his top hand from his left thumb.
Alvarez was removed after the sixth inning having given up five runs on nine hits and a one walk and he struck out one batter.
The Yankees bullpen, who have been victimized four times in four different cities by walkoff losses, took over and shut down the Blue Jays for the rest of the game. Scott Proctor, Aaron Laffey, Hector Noesi, Rafael Soriano and Rivera each pitched a scoreless inning. Combined they gave up no hits and one walk and fanned six batters to hold the Blue Jays at bay long enough for the Yankees offense to grab the lead.
They did that in the seventh inning when Derek Jeter led off against right-handed reliever Carlos Villanueva with an infield single to deep short. Granderson then battled Villanueva into an extended 2-2 count in which he fouled off seven straight pitches. On the Villanueva’s 12th offering, Granderson punched a fastball over the center-field wall for his 40th home run and gave the Yankees their first lead of the game.
Laffey (3-2) was credited with the victory. Villanueva (6-4) took the loss. Rivera posted his 42nd save of the season in 47 chances.
The Yankees’ season ledger is at 91-59 and they now lead the Red Flops, uh, Sox, by 4 1/2 games with just 12 games left to play. The Blue Jays are 76-75 and are 15 1/2 games out of first in fourth place in the A.L. East.
- Granderson had a perfect afternoon at the plate. He was 3-for-3 with a bunt single, a double, a home run and he drew two walks. Despite his recent struggles at the plate this month, Granderson is two home runs behind the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista (42) in the major leagues in home runs. His two RBIs drew him into a tie with the Phillies’ Ryan Howard for the major-league lead at 113. He leads Ian Kinsler of Texas for major-league lead in runs scored 131 to 112. So if Granderson can make a big push over the last 12 games, he could still advance his MVP credentials.
- Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with a single, a home run, a run scored and two RBIs in his first game back. The thumb was not an issue and Rodriguez said his surgically repaired knee is not hurting him. Obviously, he felt comfortable at the plate. Rodriguez batted fifth for the first time since the 2006 season and it is unclear whether manager Joe Girardi will keep him that spot for the rest of the season and the playoffs.
- Teixeira also entered Saturday’s game in a slump. He was 6-for-35 (.171) in his last nine games. But he showed signs of life with a 2-for-5 game with a single and a double. Barring an extremely hot finish to the season, Teixeira will easily set a season-low batting mark this season. He is hitting just .246.
- Colon is becoming hard to figure out. On July 30, he was 8-6 with a 3.82 ERA. He is winless in his last eight starts and yet his ERA is just a tick lower at 3.81. He also has been good one start and not so good in the next. If the Yankees are to progress in the postseason the Yankees need more consistent pitching from Colon.
- Cano is easily the most gifted hitter and all-around player on the team. However, along with it comes some pretty bad rockhead plays. Twice on this current road trip, Cano has made serious base-running blunders that have cost the Yankees dearly. This one on Saturday was incredibly stupid. Even if he mistakenly thought the ball was in for a hit, he should have looked to see where Teixeira was on the bases before he ran past him. If the Yankees play this way in the playoffs they can forget winning their 28th world championship.
- During this road trip the Yankees have also been hitting into a lot of double plays. Besides the Cano mistake that was scored as a double play, the Yankees hit into two double plays in the first two innings. One by Teixeira and another by Swisher. It is easy to understand that they are not deliberately hitting into double plays but they are killing the offense when they are not careful on hitting over the ball instead of getting under the ball. It has to stop.
Phil Hughes felt back spasms after he completed his bullpen session on Friday and he will not pitch on Monday as scheduled. A.J. Burnett will pitch against the Minnesota Twins on that day instead. Girardi said the spasms were minor and Hughes likely will pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday or in one of the doubleheader games scheduled for Wednesday.
The Yankees will look to win the three-game series against the Blue Jays on Sunday.
The Yankees will start 34-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia (11-7, 3.71 ERA). Garcia was not sharp in his last start on Sept. 11 against the Angels. He gave up five runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings of a no-decision game in which the Yankees rallied to win 6-5. He is 7-7 with a 6.10 ERA in the lat 10 seasons against the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays will start right-hander Brandon Morrow (9-11, 5.23 ERA). Morrow allowed seven runs on seven hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings against Boston. Morrow has allowed five or more runs in four of his last five starts. He is 3-2 with a 4.66 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be at 1:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 3, MARINERS 2
To the best closer to ever toe the rubber, Tuesday likely seemed just like any night over the past 17 seasons he has sported the number 42 on his back. But when the final out was recorded in the ninth inning, Mariano Rivera earned another taste of history by recording his 600th save.
Rivera joins a short list of relievers that includes just Trevor Hoffman and himself as the only closers to reach that plateau. The Panama native now needs only two saves to pass Hoffman on the all-time saves list.
The fact that Rivera did this to preserve a victory for the luckless veteran A.J. Burnett, helped extend the Yankees’ modest winning streak to three games and maintained the club’s four-game lead in the American League over the second-place Boston Red Sox made the milestone even sweeter.
The Yankees broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning on a Robinson Cano fielder’s choice grounder that scored Nick Swisher and the bullpen — led by Rivera’s 41st save of the season — held the Mariners at bay the rest of the game as New York edged Seattle at Safeco Field in front of a crowd of 18,306.
Burnett (10-11) won his first game since Aug. 15 at Kansas City against the Royals, a stretch of five starts. The six innings he pitched were a microcosm of what Burnett has been to the Yankees during the season.
In his first three innings, Burnett threw 64 pitches, he gave up two runs on four hits, walked one batters, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches. To Yankee fans familiar with the Burnett repertoire this is the what they would call “Bad A.J.”
However, over the next three innings, Burnett threw 39 pitches, gave up no runs, no hits and walked just one batter. This is what Yankee fans affectionately call “Good A.J.”
The end result was a victory for him and the Yankees and a pitching line that reads: six innings, four hits, two walks, and a season-high 11 strikeouts. He struck out at least one batter in every inning and he struck out two batters in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. He struck out the Mariners No. 7 and No. 8 hitters, Adam Kennedy and Casper Wells, in all six plate appearances he faced them.
He was only touched by a two-out RBI single by Brendan Ryan in the second inning and a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Miguel Olivo in the third before he settled in and started getting strikeout after strikeout with his breaking pitches.
The performance earned him his 10th win, the seventh straight season he has won 10 or games.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were able to take an early 2-0 lead on rookie lefty Charlie Furbush (3-9) in the second inning.
Cano led off the frame with his 26th home run of the season that landed deep into the right-centerfield bleachers. Rookie designated hitter Jesus Montero followed with a line-drive single to left and Andruw Jones advanced him to third with double down the leftfield line.
Furbush was then working on Russell Martin, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a bruised right thumb, when Furbush uncorked a wild pitch that eluded Olivo and rolled to the backstop. Montero broke from third and scored without a play at the plate.
The Yankees winning rally began in the sixth on a Nick Swisher leeadoff double off the wall in left-center. Mark Teixiera followed with a looping single to right that Swisher had to make sure fell in front of Ichiro Suzuki before advancing to third.
Cano then hit a grounder to Dustin Ackley at second in which the Mariners were unable to turn into a double play and Swisher scored easily with what proved to be the winning run.
The bullpen then took over in the seventh. The Yankees’ killer trio of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Rivera were able to shut out the Mariners the rest of the way, although Robertson did make it interesting the eighth by giving up a single and two walks sandwiched around three strikeouts. The reliever the Yankees call “Houdini” for his unbelievable escapes from jams struck out pinch-hitter Trayvon Robinson swinging with two out to end the bases-loaded threat.
Rivera then began the ninth with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Wily Mo Pena. After a Suzuki single, Rivera struck out rookie Kyle Seager swinging. Then with Ackley batting, Suzuki was thrown out attempting to steal by Martin to end the game and deliver an epic save to the Yankees’ 41-year-old living legend reliever.
The Yankee players and coaches spilled out of the dugout and bullpen to congratulate Rivera on his very rare achievement. Rivera cast it aside after the game saying there was a more important goal at stake for him.
“It’s a good number to achieve, but at the same time, it’s not all about that, you know what I mean?” Rivera said.
With the victory the Yankees have already clinched a victory in the three-game series with the Mariners. They also improved their season record to 90-57. The Mariners, losers of their last four games, are now 61-87.
- Look out A.L. pitchers, Cano is hot again! In the last three games, Cano is 7-for-14 (.500) with two home runs and six RBIs. His two RBIs on Tuesday give him 111 on the season, which ties him for the team lead with Curtis Granderson. It also tops his career high of 109 RBIs he set last season and he still has 15 games left to play.
- Montero had three very good at-bats on Tuesday. In the second he singled solidly to left and later scored on a wild pitch. In the fourth he doubled off the wall in left-center but was caught napping on a hot grounder hit to Ryan at shortstop. Ryan threw to second to nab Montero, who had strayed too far off the base. But in the sixth, Montero hit a shot to deep center that barely missed going out. To show how large Montero’s legend has grown, Mariners manager Eric Wedge called in a right-hander to face him in the sixth rather then let Furbush face him a third time.
- You have to credit to Burnett for toughing out a rocky three innings and shutting down the Mariners in the next three. His off-speed stuff was electric and had the Mariners flailing at air most of the evening. Granted the Mariners were playing a lot of youngsters who have limited major-league experience. But the performance was impressive nonetheless.
- The Yankees continue to pull rockhead plays at a time when they should be eliminating them before the playoffs. Montero was caught off second by Ryan in the fourth inning. Two innings later, Cano forgot how many outs there were and was already touching third as Montero’s blast to center was caught by Wells. Montero’s out was only the second out and Cano was doubled off easily for the third out. The Yankees also bounced into three double plays, which prevented them from extending their 3-2 lead.
- Eduardo Nunez continues to struggle at the plate. He was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and did not get a ball out of the infield. He is now 3-for-37 (.081) since Aug. 28. The league has apparently caught up with him and pitchers are feeding him a steady diet of breaking balls out of the strike zone and letting Nunez get himself out.
- In fact, the No. 7, 8 and 9 hitters in Tuesday’s lineup — Martin, Nunez and Brett Gardner — combined to go 0-for-9 with five strikeouts, one double play and none of them got a ball out of the infield. When the offense is clicking, it is usually because the bottom of the order is producing and getting on base.
The Yankees got Martin back behind the plate and Swisher, who played first on Monday, returned to leftfield for the first time since he injured his left elbow last Thursday in Baltimore. The Yankees have played the last three games without three starters and have been resting other starters due to an extended road trip without any days off. Alex Rodriguez, who is out with a sore left thumb, likely will not play again until the team gets to Toronto on Friday. Meanwhile, backup catcher Francisco Cervelli was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Sept. 9 with concussion syndrome symptoms. It is unlikely that Cervelli will play for the Yankees for the rest of the season. Rookies Jesus Montero and Austin Romine could both make the postseason roster, although Romine likely would take Cervelli’s role as the backup to Martin. Montero would be a DH.
The Yankees can post a sweep of the Mariners on Wednesday.
They will start Rookie of the Year candidate Ivan Nova (15-4, 3.94 ERA). Nova had his streak of eight consecutive wins in eight starts broken his last time out with a no-decision against the Orioles on Sept. 8. He gave up three runs on five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. He is 0-0 with a 9.82 ERA against the Mariners this season.
The Mariners will counter with lefty slop-tosser Jason Vargas (8-13, 4.49 ERA). Vargas won his start last Thursday against the Royals, giving up one run on four hits over six innings. He is just 2-8 in his last 12 starts. He is 0-3 with a 7.86 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 10:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.