New York Yankees vs Toronto Blue Jays: Mariano Rivera Blows It
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Last night, some guys north of the border pulled on Superman's cape. In fact, they pulled it off.
In a land where almost everyone was focused on Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Toronto Blue Jays held Batman captive so long he had to tell them where the Bat Cave was.
With the New York Yankees holding what certainly seemed like a comfortable two-run lead going into the ninth inning and with the greatest closer in baseball history coming into the game, a 10th win for the East-leading Yankees seemed certain.
But this time when The Hulk flexed his pecs, his shirt didn't rip off.
The superhero for Yankee fans proved himself human last night.
Mariano Rivera, who had seven saves and had not given up a run all year, came into the ninth inning in Toronto last night and was not his perfect self.
Rivera gave up four hits, a base on balls and a wild pitch in blowing his first save and allowing Toronto to tie the score which allowed them to win in the 10th.
It was so uncharacteristic of Rivera. Even more odd was that Mariano let his frustration show.
He said after the game that his worst frustration came with the wild pitch which he said he just held on to too long.
Mariano Rivera is the biggest reason the Yankees have five World Series championships over the past 15 seasons.
He is the most valuable player for this team over the long haul.
He will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection and should be a unanimous choice, although that has never happened.
As great as his career numbers in the regular season have been, his postseason work is even greater.
But last night, in a land where there are more Moose Crossing signs than baseball players, the Blue Jays pulled the mask off the old Lone Ranger and spit into the wind.
They did something no one is supposed to do: make Mariano Rivera look really bad.
It is more accurate to say Mariano was not made to look bad, but just that he was bad for this one outing.
This was a terrible loss for the Yankees in a game in which three other relievers were brilliant.
David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano were all perfect in their work for 2.2 innings. None of them gave up a hit.
But he only went 5.1 innings. He gave up only two earned runs. But he also allowed five base on balls and had thrown 105 pitches by the time Joe Girardi was forced to take him out.
Girardi then chose to use David Robertson to finish the sixth and Robertson struck out both hitters he faced.
But the short outing by Burnett and the use of Robertson in the sixth led to a very odd choice by Girardi in the tenth.
Yankee announcer Ken Singleton first noted that Ivan Nova was warming in the Yankee bullpen as Rivera struggled in the ninth and Kenny was obviously surprised.
But when Girardi brought Nova in to pitch the 10th inning, everyone had to be scratching their heads.
He still had three relief pitchers in the pen: Boone Logan, Hector Noesi and Lance Pendleton.
Joe would say later that the reason he didn't bring Logan in was that he knew the Jays would just pinch hit for the left-handed hitter scheduled.
But that is a lame excuse to use a starting pitcher in relief.
Nova has been designated as the fourth starter since spring training. He was rocked in the 10th inning last night.
But one has to wonder what goes through the mind of a starting pitcher when he is sent down to the pen and then is brought in when he knows there are three other guys down there who are supposed to do this work.
What effect does it have on Nova over the long haul?
There has been no regular rotation for the Yanks this season.
Part of that is due to rain-outs and an extraordinary number of scheduled off days. The Yankees will get another off day tomorrow following this short two-game set in Canada.
But we have seen CC stretched to seven days between starts and he did not pitch well at all last Sunday with the extra rest.
We have seen Freddy Garcia pushed back and pushed back to the point that over 21 days of the season he has had one start.
And now, it is unclear when Nova, who started last Friday, will get another start.
Bartolo Colon will go today. There is no game tomorrow. So you would hope CC Sabathia would be brought back on Saturday. Even that would give him one extra day of rest.
One might anticipate Garcia pitching Sunday.
Would Nova then start Monday?
If you count last night's work of less than a full inning an outing, then Nova would be pitching on regular rest if he starts on Monday.
But you can't look at things this way.
The mixed up schedule has reeked havoc with the pitching. Starters like to stay in their routine and go out and make maximum effort every five days.
That has not been the case for Girardi's staff this year. And you have to begin to wonder to what extent it has affected the starters.
None of that can explain Mo's problems last night.
The only explanation is that he really does not change his clothes in a phone booth and that he really is human.
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