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Posted by: Patrick
Jack Curry of the Times has some reflections from Derek Jeter on Mariano Rivera. Among them:

“Mo, he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player,” Jeter said. “There’s no one that’s done what he’s done. There’ll probably be no one that’ll come out and do what he’s done afterwards. It’s just something that you don’t see, his longevity, his consistency. I just don’t think you’ll see it again.”
Posted by: David
A.J. Burnett was masterful through seven innings and handed off the reigns to Mariano Rivera who didn't disappoint as the Yankees tied the World Series at one game apiece heading to Philadelphia.

The Phillies jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 2nd when Raul Ibanez looped a double just inside the foul line in short left field which bounced into the stands. Matt Stairs followed with a hard grounder which A-Rod couldn't handle and the ball went passed his glove to left.

The Yankees fought back against Pedro Martinez. Mark Texeira hit a home run in the fourth and Hideki Matsui put the Yankees ahead in the sixth when he golfed a down and in curve into the right field seats.

The Yankees scored again in the seventh when Jerry Hairston, Jr. led off with a bloop single over first to right field. Melky Cabrera followed with a line single to right on a hit and run play and that chased pinch runner Brett Gardner to third with no outs.
Jorge Posada pinch hit against new pitcher Chan Ho Park and lined a single up the middle to extend the Yankee lead to 3-1. Derek Jeter tried to bunt and struck out when his two strike bunt attempt went foul. Johnny Damon lined a ball down the first base line which Ryan Howard trapped but the umpire called it a catch and Posada was doubled off to end the inning.

Rivera entered in the eighth and got Carlos Ruiz to ground out to third for the first out. Jimmy Rollins battled with an eleven pitch at bat and eventually walked. Shane Victorino grounded a ball through the right side to put runners on first and second. Mo got tough and got last night's hero Chase Utley to ground in to an inning ending 4-6-3 double play. The replay showed that Utley had beat the play but the Yankees got the call to end the inning with a two run lead.

The Yankees couldn't score in the bottom of the eighth and Mo went out to close door. He got Ryan Howard looking for the first out. Howard struck out all four times up in the game. Jason Werth lined a ball off the end of the bat which Cano gloved behind second and the Raul Ibanez became the last hope for the Phillies. Ibanez delivered his second double of the game up the alley in left center which brought up veteran slugger Matt Stairs. Rivera struck out Stairs swinging to end the game.

For Rivera the save was his 10th in World Series play and 38th postseason of his career. His postseason ERA now stands at 0.76.
Posted by: David
The Yankees got it done the way the great Yankee teams of the late nineties got it done. Great starting pitching, timely hitting, good defense and the greatest closer in baseball history.

The formula worked on Sunday night in the Bronx as Andy Pettite went 6 1/3 strong innings and gave up only one run. He fell behind 1-0 early when Bobby Abreu lined a RBI single to right on a hanging inside curve ball.

The Yankees battled back with a two run bases loaded single from Johnny Damon and a bases loaded walk from A-Rod.

Joba Chamberlain relieved Pettitte and finished the seventh without any further damage. With the off day on Friday and rain out yesterday, Girardi decided to use Mo for two innings and brought him in for the eighth with the Yankees ahead 3-1.

Mo had a little trouble in the eighth when pesky Chone Figgins fisted a single over shortstop to lead off the inning. Abreu bounced a ball sharply to first but Texeira made a diving stop and raced to the bag for the first out. Figgins took second on the play. Torii Hunter bounced a ball up the middle but fortunate for the Yankees Robinson Cano was playing close to second and snagged the ball and threw to first for the second out with Figgins remaining at second. Vladimir Guerrero battled for eight pitches and lined a single to right to score Figgins and make the score 3-2. Kendry Morales then grounded out to second to end the eighth.

In the bottom of eighth the Angels imploded somewhat and had consecutive errors on sacrifice bunt plays. Howie Kendrick missed the throw at first and Scott Kazmir air mailed the throw over the head of Kendrick covering to score a run for the Yankees. Texeiera had a sacrifice fly to give the Yankees a three run lead at 5-2.

That was more than enough for Mo as he finished off the Angels in order. Kendrick got jammed and bounced a ball off the plate which Tex handled for thte first out. Juan Rivera flew to right and then Gary Matthews, Jr. struck out to end the game and give the Yankees their 40th pennant and a trip to the World Series against the Phillies starting on Wednesday night.

CC Sabathia was named MVP of the ALCS for his 2-0 record and 1.12 ERA with 16 strikeouts. For Rivera the save was his second of the series and 37th of his postseason career. His postseason ERA now stands at 0.77.
Posted by: David
The Yankees had the champagne on ice when they battled back from an early four run deficit. In the seventh John Lackey began to tire and he got to the point where he had the bases loaded with two outs. In a move that Lackey was visibly upset about, Scioscia gave him the hook and brought in Darren Oliver. Mark Teixeira delivered on the first pitch with a three run double up the gap to pull the Yankees to within a run at 4-3. A-Rod was walked, but Matsui delivered a base hit up the middle to tie the game and Robinson Cano delivered a two run triple to give the Yankees the lead at 6-4.

Girardi elected to keep A.J. Burnett in and the first two runners got on base. Figgins sacrificed them over and Girardi then brought in Damaso Marte. Marte got Abreu to ground to first but a run scored to make it 6-5. Phil Hughes then relieved and walked Torii Hunter and had Vlad Guerrero 1-2 on great curve balls but elected to throw a high fastball and Gurerrero lined it up the middle to tie the score at 6. Kendry Morales also got an RBI single to give the Angels the lead at 7-6. The Yankees got out of the inning without any further damage but couldn't score in the eighth off of Jered Weaver.

In the bottom of the eighth Joba Chamberlain entered and gave up a double to Juan Rivera on a hanging slider. He then struck out Jeff Mathis but Erick Aybar reached on an infield bloop single up the middle to put runners on first and third. The Yankees then stalled to get Rivera ready and the Sandman delivered as usual. He got Figgins to fly to right without a run scoring and retired Abreu on a fly ball to center to end the inning.

In the ninth Brian Fuentes got two quick out and A-Rod was then walked intentionally. Matsui followed with a walk and Cano was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Nick Swisher battled and worked to 3-2 but then popped up to short to end the game.

Rivera lowered his career postseason ERA to 0.71. The series resumes on Saturday night in the Bronx with Andy Pettitte facing Joe Saunders.
Posted by: Patrick
After being cleared by MLB, Mo was asked about the allegations that he spit on a baseball during Monday's ALCS game 3. Kevin Baxter and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times have his reaction.

"I give you permission to check video. And if I'm wrong, I'll charter a plane and I'll take all of your guys wherever you want to go."

"Don't waste time on this, guys. There are better things to do than this."

"It's not true. I don't do those things. So I don't worry about it."
Posted by: Patrick
Joel Sherman and George King of the Post report that MLB has investigated the alleged Mariano Rivera spitball and have concluded that Mo did not spit on the baseball. I doubt it'll do much to effect the people who believe he did, but it's nice to have a quick, official response to this.
Posted by: Patrick
So, let's acknowledge this story. In the clip below, popularized by Angels fan blog Halos Heaven, Mariano Rivera is shown spitting in the general direction of a baseball he is holding, in the 10th inning of last night's ALCS game 3. Here's the clip:


The post at Halos Heaven is tremendously unfair and short sighted, unfortunately. Even if Mo comes out today and admits to using a spitball for his entire career, the post would still be unfair and short sighted. While suggesting that "you be the judge," it also calls the clip "pretty conclusive evidence of why Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera is able to throw only one pitch that has unpredictable, yet precise movement." Really? You're ready to throw a man's entire career away because of an 11 second clip where he may or may not have spit on a baseball? This goes beyond team loyalty and into fairness in judgment. This is really a case of treat people as you'd want to be treated. It makes me think of the discussion we had on the "Social Media: The Bad and The Ugly" panel, on which I was a panelist, at Blog World & New Media Expo, which I just returned from.

At it's very best, the clip is inconclusive, and it is just as likely that Mo spit in the direction of the baseball while holding it, as he did actually spit at it. As Big League Stew's 'Duk points out, the white shadow that some people are taking to be spit hitting the baseball, is actually the Majestic logo on Mike Scioscia's jersey.

In our society, we build people up to tear them down. Rivera, revered by players, front office people, fans and press alike, is in a special tier of player. He is a rare blend of performance and success as a human being. Unfortunately, because he has done things the right way, those looking for him doing the wrong thing will look that much harder to find something that could cast him in a bad light and this may be an example of it.

At the end of the day, the only factual thing about this clip is that Mariano Rivera spit in the general direction of the baseball while holding it. Everything, and I mean everything, else is not fact; it's opinion or speculation. It comes down to what you want to believe and how much you want to judge from an inconclusive video clip.

Choose what you want to believe, but be open to people judging you in the same manner.
Posted by: David
Mariano Rivera is simply the best ever the way he stays cool under intense pressure. In the the tenth inning with the scored tied at four, Rivera was summoned after Phil Hughes gave up a leadoff double to Jeff Mathis.

Erick Aybar was the first batter he faced and he was surely in a sacrifice situation. On the second pitch Aybar bunted toward third and Mo pounced on it but bounced his throw past A-Rod and the runners were safe at first and third with no outs.

The infield was brought in and Chone Figgins grounded hard to first and Texeira was able to dive and catch it and touch the bag without the runners advancing. Bobby Abreu was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force at any base. Torii Hunter grounded to Tex again and he threw home for the force. Vlad Guerrero was next and Mo got him to ground to Tex again and he took the ball to first unassisted to end the inning.

The Yankees couldn't score in the eleventh and David Robertson relieved Mo since he would have had to bat third in the inning. Jerry Hairston, Jr. replaced Damon in left field because of his better arm and that play eliminated the DH. Robertson retired the first two batters and then Girardi inexplicably replaced him with Alfredo Aceves.

Aceves got behind and gave up a single to Howie Kendrick and then a booming double to Jeff Mathis which scored the winning run for the Angels and a final score of 5-4.

Rivera's postseason ERA remains at 0.72. With the series now at 2-1 in favor of the Yankees, CC Sabathia will go on three days rest tomorrow night vs. Scott Kazmir for the Angels.
Posted by: David
This game will probably be an instant classic on ESPN Classic or the MLB Network, the YES Network and any other station that appreciates a great postseason game.

The Yankees went up early 2-0 with the aide of an RBI triple from Robinson Cano and a solo home run from Derek Jeter. The Angels battled back in the fifth when Burnett got wild with walks, wild pitches and hit batters. All in all he was fortunate to hold them down to two runs.

A.J. left after 6 1/3 and was followed by Phil Coke who struck out Bobby Abreu and Joba Chamberlain who struck out Vladimir Guerrero.

In the eighth the Yankees went to Phil Hughes and he gave up a one out single. He then induced a perfect potential double play ball but Jeter bobbled it right near second and both runners were safe. Hughes struck out Gary Matthews, Jr. on three pitches but then Girardi summoned the Sandman.

It only took one pitch to finish off the eighth inning as Mo jammed Erick Aybar with a cutter and got him to ground to second to end the inning.

Neither team could push across a run until the 11th inning when Aybar walked, was sacrificed to second and then scored on the first 2009 postseason hit from Chone Figgins. The Angels took a 3-2 lead off of Alfredo Aceves and tried for more but the inning ended on a double play started by A-Rod.

Did I mention A-Rod? He just happened to be the first batter up in the bottom of the 11th against Angels closer Brian Fuentes and on a 0-2 pitch lined a home run just over the outstretched glove of Bobby Abreu in right to tie the score at three.

A-Rod would get another chance in the bottom of the 12th with two outs but popped up to end the inning. Damaso Marte pitched a third of an inning and then David Robertson struck out Gary Matthews, Jr. to end the inning with two runners on. In the 13th, Cano committed his second error, Abreu was walked intentionally, but Robertson pitched out of the jam by retiring Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero on ground balls to end the inning. In all the Yankee bullpen pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing only one run.

Jerry Hairston, Jr. led off with a pinch hit single and was sacrificed to second by Brett Gardner. Melky Cabrera grounded a ball in the hole at second and Izturis tried for the force at second and threw wild past Aybar covering. Figgins then bobbled backing up and it allowed Hairston to score the winning run and give the Yankees a 4-3 win and a commanding 2-0 series lead with the team's heading to Anaheim for the next game on Monday afternoon.

Rivera's postseason ERA now stands at 0.72.
Posted by: David
CC Sabathia was dominant over eight innings and Mo closed the door as usual in postseason to convert his 2nd save of the 2009 postseason and 36th of his postseason career.

The Yankees jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first with an RBI sacrifice fly from A-Rod and a fielding blunder from the Angels on a pop up from Hideki Matsui. Matsui popped the ball up between third and short on the outfield grass and both Figgins and Aybar let the ball drop with Damon scoring on the play.

The Angels battled back in the forth on a double from Guerrero and an RBI single from Kendry Morales to pull within 2-1. In the fifth the Yankees got the run back on a single from Matsui. They extended the lead in the sixth when Cabrera led off with a single and moved to second on an errant pick off throw from John Lackey. Derek Jeter then singled him home and on the play took second as the ball jumped over Torii Hunter's glove in center.

Sabathia left after eight innings allowing only one run on four hits and walking one batter and striking out seven.

Rivera entered in the ninth and was a bit rusty walking Torii Hunter on five pitches. Mo battled back and struck out Vladimir Guerrero and then got Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales on fly balls to end the game.

For Rivera it is his 36th postseason save in 41 opportunities and his postseason ERA continues to stand at 0.74.

The series resumes tomorrow night in the Bronx with A.J. Burnett on the hill for the Bombers.
Posted by: Patrick
Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports that Mariano Rivera has been named as the 2009 Delivery Man of the Year award. The award is given to the best relief in all of baseball.

Thanks Mr. Diaz for the tip.
Posted by: David
Mariano Rivera recorded his first postseason save since 2005 against the Angels as the Yankees completed a sweep of the ALDS vs. the Twins with a 4-1 victory.

The game was a pitcher's duel between ex-Yankee Carl Pavano and veteran Yankee Andy Pettitte. Both pitchers were great with outstanding control, leading to many strikeouts. Pettitte gave up a run in the sixth on a RBI single from Joe Mauer.

In the 7th, the Yankees battled right back and who else but A-Rod hit a tying home run to right. One batter later Jorge Posada hit a home run to left which just cleared the wall to give the Yankees the lead at 2-1.

Pettitte was finished after 6 1/3 innings and Joba came in to face Delmon Young. Young doubled up the alley in right center but Joba got tough and got out of the inning without any damage.

In the eighth Phil Huhges relieved Joba and Nick Punto doubled to left center to start the inning. Hughes has not been automatic in the postseason allowing two runs in game two. However, the Twins pulled another rock. Denard Span hit a bouncer over the mound behind second which Jeter fielded behind the bag. Punto kept running with his head down. Jeter fired the ball home and Posada threw back to third to get Punto for a huge out. Hughes got Orlando Cabrera but Girardi pulled him in favor of Mo to face Joe Mauer with two outs and one on.

Rivera shattered Mauer's bat on the second pitch and Texeiera easily handled it to end the inning. In the top of the ninth three different Twins pitchers walked Yankee batters and Gardenhire went to his closer Joe Nathan to try and limit the damage. Posada lined a single to right to score one run and Cano blooped a single to right to make the Yankee lead 4-1.

With a three run lead Mo smelled the finish line and led the Yankees to the ALCS. Michael Cuddyer fisted a single to right but then Mo got Jason Kubel looking and Delmon Young swinging for two quick outs. Brendan Harris grounded to short to end the game, the ALDS and baseball at the Metrodome as the Twins will move to a new open air stadium next year named Target Field.

For Rivera he has converted 35 postseason saves in 40 opportunities and his postseason ERA is now at 0.74.

The ALCS will be on Friday night in the Bronx vs. the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Posted by: David
The baseball Gods that lived across the street since 1923 arrived in the New Yankee Stadium on Friday night.

The Yankees were down 3-1 going to the bottom of the ninth and facing phenom closer Joe Nathan. Nathan had 47 saves during the 2009 season but the Yankees had success against him during walk off weekend in May. Nathan also has a terrible ALDS career history.

The game was tied at one going to the eighth and Phil Hughes got two quick outs. However, the dreaded base on balls to Carlos Gomez almost proved to be the ruination of the evening. Gomez stole second and scored on a single up the middle from Nick Punto.

Mariano Rivera was then summoned with two on and two outs and faced pesky Denard Span who got a hit off Mo on Wednesday night. Mo let a pitch get too much of the plate and Span lined it over second to score a run and give the Twins a 3-1 lead.

In the ninth the Yankees had the heart of the order up and Tex led off with a single to right. Nathan got behind A-Rod 3-1 and grooved a fast ball which Rodriguez launched over the fence in right center field to tie the game.

The extra innings were full of drama. Mo struck out Joe Mauer swinging and Jason Kubel looking for two quick outs. Michael Cuddyer then singled before Delmon Young flew out to right field to end the inning.

In the Yankee tenth, Posada got a broken bat single with one out and Brett Gardner pinch hit for him and stole second with Jeter batting. Nathan tried to pick him off and threw the ball wildly to center field. Gardner stumbled going to third but made it safely when the throw was on the left field side of the bag. Jeter was then walked to set up a double play and Damon was up.

The Twins replaced Nathan with Jose Mijares and he elicited a double play when Damon lined a ball off his glove but it was caught by Cabrera at short and he doubled off Gardner who ran on the play.

In the eleventh inning with Damaso Marte pitching, Joe Mauer looped a ball down the left field line which was ruled foul but the replay clearly showed the ball was fair and should have been a ground ruled double. Mauer singled and then Kubel singled to right. David Robertson replaced Marte and Cuddyer singled up the middle but Mauer held at third.

The bases were loaded with no outs. Delmon Young lined to Tex at first and Carlos Gomez grounded to Tex and he forced the runner at home. Brendan Harris then flew out to center to end the inning.

In the bottom of the eleventh, Tex led off with a home run for a walk off win and a commanding 2-0 series lead.

For Rivera he has now pitched 119.2 postseason innings and his ERA stands at 0.75.
Posted by: David
Personally I am enjoying writing this blog more than the hundreds of others I have written over the past five years. The reason is that I was present last night to see the game and best of all watch the Sandman do his thing.

I'm sure that everyone that is a Yankee fan knows that Mariano enters every game to the strains of "Enter Sandman" but when you are home watching on television you only get a few seconds of the song and see Mo run in from the bullpen. Being there last night was simply awesome! While the television broadcast goes to commercials the fans are singing the song at the top of their lungs in adoration for the greatest relief pitcher baseball has ever seen.

Mo wasn't his normal automatic but part of his greatness that is sometime overlooked is how cool he is when runners get on base. He struck out Brendan Harris swinging and got Matt Tolbert looking for two quick outs. Nick Punto worked the count to 3-2 and eventually walked. Denard Span then lined a single to center pushing Punto to third. Span took second on defensive indifference and Mo was the epitome of coolness under pressure. Orlando Cabrera was up and he had a previous great at bat against Phil Hughes in the seventh before he struck out swinging. Mo got Cabrera to ground to second to end the game.

Rivera lowered his magnificent postseason ERA to 0.76. I would invite all fans who read this blog to go to the Yankees website and look at the remarkable postseason stats for Mariano Rivera. When you really study and digest it and see that he has done it over fifteen years the results are remarkable.

All in all it was a good performance for the entire Yankee team. Jeter was Captain Clutch as expected, Matsui hit another home run, Swisher got a big double to give the Yankees the lead and A-Rod got two RBI singles. CC Sabathia was solid over 6 2/3 innings surrendering only one earned run and the bullpen of Coke, Hughes, Chamberlain and Rivera didn't allow any runs.

With an off day today the series resumes on Friday evening at the stadium with A.J. Burnett taking the mound and pitching to Jose Molina. I know Posada is somewhat miffed about being passed over but his catching performance last night was not good. He had two passed balls, one of which allowed a run to score and did not throw anyone out on the base paths. Hopefully A.J. will be dominant and we will head to Minnesota up 2-0.
Posted by: Patrick
Mike Lupica of the Daily News has a feature, released a few days ago, that is in so many words about the greatness of Mariano Rivera. It's a nice read.

Thanks to Mr. Diaz for the tip.
Posted by: David
It looked like A.J. Burnett would be snake bitten again. He had only surrendered two runs, one earned in five innings but the Yankees couldn't score any until their ten run outburst in the sixth.

The huge inning was highlighted by two home runs from Alex Rodriguez. The first was a three run shot to left to put the Yankees ahead at 3-2. The second was a grand slam to put the game out of reach at 10-2. The huge day for A-Rod gave him 30 home runs on the season and exactly 100 RBI.

David Robertson pitched a scoreless sixth, Joba Chamberlain pitched a perfect seventh needing only nine pitches, the Philthies (Coke and Hughes) combined in the eighth and Mo was summoned for work in the ninth.

Rivera started the inning by striking out Pat Burrell looking. Chris Richard got a huge taste of the cutter when on the first pitch his bat shattered and the result was a weak grounder to second. Gabe Gross then grounded to third to end the game as the Yankees won 10-2.

For the season, Mo had 44 saves in 46 save opportunities. His record was 3-3 and his ERA was 1.76.
Posted by: Patrick
Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci has a great on Mariano Rivera and his cutter of lore. Check it out.

Via Steve.
Posted by: David
Mariano Rivera worked the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night in the Bronx.

Phil Hughes worked the eighth and Mo took over in the ninth. He gave up a single to Billy Butler before he got a double play and a ground out to end the inning. He only threw ten pitches and lowered his ERA to 1.79.

The Yankees are off Thursday and conclude the regular season in Tampa starting Friday with CC Sabathia trying for his 20th win of the season.