As if Mariano Rivera‘s resume needed additional burnishing, on Monday afternoon Mo surpassed Trevor Hoffman to become Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader with 602, securing the Yankees’ 6-4 win over a Minnesota Twin Z-lineup. Mo picked the record save up in style, throwing a perfect inning that saw him get Trevor Plouffe to ground out, Michael Cuddyer to line out and rookie Chris Parmelee looking on a three-pitch strikeout.
Of course, as wonderful as it was to see one of the greatest pitchers of all time reach an unprecedented plateau, the earlier portion of this game was a bit less pleasant to watch, as the long, sad saga of A.J. Burnett continued. Burnett couldn’t even dominate a lineup consisting primarily of the Rochester Red Wings and New Britain Rock Cats, lasting a mere four-plus innings and coming frighteningly close to blowing the 5-0 lead the Yankees had handed to him.
Burnett’s final line included nine hits and four runs in those four-plus innings, though the strangest part of his start is that he racked up seven strikeouts in the first three innings, and appeared well on his way to a dominant outing. Of course, the words “dominant outing” and “A.J. Burnett” haven’t belonged in the same sentence for a long time, and I suppose it was foolish to hope that he might be able to reverse that trend against a lineup of minor-league misfits.
Anyway, the Yankees built that early lead off rookie lefthander Scott Diamond, who YES referred to as a “poor man’s Cliff Lee” in their scouting report. That might be wishful thinking. In one of the Twins-est pitching lines you’ll ever see, Diamond lasted four innings, gave up five runs on 10 hits and struck one man out. The Yankees got on board quickly in the first, with Curtis Granderson launching his 41st home run of the season with Derek Jeter on. After a Mark Teixeira walk, the Yankees looked like they might blow it open right away, but an Alex Rodriguez double play stole some of the momentum away.
However, A-Rod would come through in a big way later on, driving in a huge insurance run with two outs in the bottom of the 6th, an inning after the Twins battled back to get to within one run. Cory Wade once again came in and cleaned up Burnett’s mess, throwing 1 2/3 innings of no-earned-run ball, allowing a Burnett inherited runner to score in a groundout. The bullpen overall was once again spectacular in this one as Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mo combined for 3 1/3 perfect innings after Wade departed.
The loss dropped the Twins to 8-28 in the Bronx since the beginning of the 2001 season (10-33 including the postseason) and 23-51 overall against the Yankees since 2001 (25-64 including the playoffs). That seems like it should be some sort of record of futility.
The Yankee win also cut their magic number for a playoff berth to 4, which means all they’ll need is a split with the Rays this week to lock it up.
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