Mo Blows Another One Against the Boston Red SoxApril 25, 2009
I don't know why people continue to be shocked when Mariano Rivera blows games against the Boston Red Sox.
Mo picked up his 12th career blown save against the Sox Friday night after giving up a game-tying, two-out, two-run homer to Jason Bay in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees went on to lose 5-4 in 11 innings.
That's 12 blown saves in 56 career opportunities against the Yankees' hated rival. So when Rivera enters a game against Boston with a one to three run lead, there's a 21.4% chance New York will no longer be leading when he's done pitching.
How could that be? I thought no one hits the great Mariano Rivera.
Well, when you only throw one pitch, a veteran team that faces you 18 times a year eventually picks up on the cutter. Maybe that's why the closer's career WHIP against the Red Sox (1.22) is his third highest among all AL teams.
It also didn't help that Manager Joe Girardi inserted Rivera into the game during a bizarre eighth inning pitching change.
Jonathan Albaladejo retired the first three batters he faced until he hit Nick Green with an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the eighth. With Brian Bruney mysteriously absent from the Yankee bullpen, Girardi let Albaladejo pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury.
After getting ahead in the count 0-1, the reliever was pulled for Rivera. Mo gave up a single to Ellsbury before striking out Dustin Pedroia to end the frame.
But we all know how much worse the closer pitches when he's forced to go out for a second inning of work.
In his career, opponents hit .208, have an on base percentage of .261, and slug .281 against Rivera during his first 25 pitches. Those averages increase to .216, .300 and .315 afterwards.
On pitch number 21 Friday night, Rivera surrendered that monster home run to Bay. While it was still within the first 25, obviously the closer was getting worn down from throwing eight pitches in the eighth, sitting down, and coming back out for the ninth.
Albaladejo was pitching fine and should've been allowed to finish out the eighth or at least complete the at bat against Ellsbury, so that Mo would be fresh for the ninth.
But Rivera and Girardi weren't entirely to blame for this loss. Well, almost.
The Yankees left 15 men on base including two in the ninth when they loaded the bases with nobody out and failed to score a single insurance run.
Here are the grade's from Friday's terrible loss to the Red Sox.
Joe Girardi, Manager: (D+) I've hammered Girardi enough for his odd pitching change in the eighth, so let me talk about some of the good things he did Friday.
After Derek Jeter led off the seventh inning of a tie game with a double, Johnny Damon stepped to the plate. Expecting a bunt, Boston third baseman Mike Lowell played in on the grass, while YES broadcaster Michael Kay questioned why Damon would sacrifice in this situation.
Yeah, why would they Yankees want to get the potential go-ahead run to third with less than two outs?
After taking a strike, Damon did in fact lay down a good bunt that rolled between the mound and first base. Sox reliever Hideki Okajima bobbled the ball and everyone was safe. Funny how that happens.
Girardi also had Ramiro Pena bunt in the 10th and Gardner lay down a sac in the 11th, but that one failed.
Derek Jeter, SS: (A) As usual, that seventh inning rally started with Jeter turning a nine-pitch at bat into a double. He also picked up a crucial RBI groundout in the fourth, which put the Yanks ahead, 2-1. Those are the little tack-on runs New York failed to convert last year.
Johnny Damon, LF: (A-) Damon laid down that beautiful bunt in the seventh and went 2-5 with a walk and a run scored, but he struck out twice and left three men on.
Mark Teixeira, 1B: (A-) Tex went 2-5 with an RBI, but with the potential go-ahead run aboard and two outs in the tenth, he chased a pitch up and struck out against Jonathan Papelbon.
Jorge Posada, DH: (B-) Posada was 1-4 with two walks, but he struck out three times and stranded three.
Nick Swisher, RF: (C-) Swisher was 1-4 with a base on balls, but he also K'd and left a miserable five men aboard.
Robinson Cano, 2B: (C-) Cano was 1-5 with a sac fly, but he left four on.
Melky Cabrera, CF-RF: (C-) Cabrera was 1-5 with a walk, a run and a steal, but he stranded an astounding six runners.
Jose Molina, C: (A-) In an unusual twist, Molina was sub-par behind home plate but did well at the dish. The back-up catcher went 2-3 with two walks and a run scored, but his passed ball in the first allowed Ellsbury to not only steal third, but also touch home with the game's first run.
Cody Ransom, 3B: (A-) After Sox starter Jon Lester walked Molina for the second time and fell behind Ransom 2-0 in the fourth, you knew he was going to throw the next pitch right down the middle of the plate. So did Ransom, who smashed the ball down the left field line for an RBI double.
Brett Gardner, CF: (INC) Gardner entered late in the game and went 0-1.
Ramiro Pena, PR-3B: (C+) Pena pinch ran for Ransom after he left with an undisclosed injury. He later laid down a sweet sacrifice bunt.
Joba Chamberlain, SP: (C+) Joba again was wild, handing out four walks in 5.1 innings, but he induced four double plays and gave up just one earned run, putting his team in a position to win.
Phil Coke, RP: (A-) Coke was solid, getting out of a jam in the sixth and allowing just one base runner over 1.1 innings.
Jonathan Albaladejo, RP: (B+) Albaladejo deserved to finish that at bat against Ellsbury.
Mariano Rivera, RP: (F)
Damaso Marte, RP: (F) Marte tried to fool us into thinking he was no longer absolute garbage when he retired the first four batters he faced, but then returned to his old self when he surrendered a walk-off homer to Kevin Youkilis in the 11th. His ERA is now a crisp 15.43.
Yankees Overall Grade: (C-) This was a bad loss because they blew a two-run lead with one out to go against their hated rival and missed several opportunities with runners on base, but through eight innings, the Yankees were playing great baseball. They were bunting, scoring runs with outs and playing good defense.
Needing a win to avoid a series loss on Saturday, New York once again turns to A.J. Burnett who has twice stopped the bleeding already this season. The Yanks need number three.
Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report's New York Yankees Community Leader. His book "Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man" is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.
Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org