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Posted by: David
The Yankees used the long ball on Saturday night in Florida. Robinson Cano got the biggest one off of Rays closer Rafael Soriano in the top of the ninth inning to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead and set up Mariano Rivera for his 22nd save of the season.

The Rays jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning off of Javy Vazquez. The Yankees tied the score on a sacrifice fly from Curtis Granderson.

The Rays added two more runs until Mark Texeira tied the score with a two run bomb. However, the Rays came right back with last night's hero Matt Joyce connecting again to right to give Tampa a one run lead at 4-3.

Nick Swisher then tied the game as he got a hanging curve ball from Matt Garza and hit it just high enough to clear the fence and tie the score.

Vazquez gave up a one out walk in the seventh and gave way to Boone Logan who got out John Jaso and Carl Crawford. David Robertson pitched an impressive eighth inning and that set up Cano for the ninth.

Cano's blast came after A-Rod popped out and again missed an opportunity to hit his 600th career home run.

Rivera came in for the bottom of the ninth and struck out Sean Rodriguez and then induced B.J. Upton to ground out to Jeter for the second out. Willy Aybar broke his bat when he got jammed with the cutter but managed to loop the ball just over Cano's head for a single. Mo then got Jason Bartlett to ground into a force play to end the game.

The save for Rivera is his 22nd in 24 save opportunities and the 548th of his career. His 2010 season ERA now stands at 0.93.

With the win the Yankees ensure that they leave Tampa in first place as tonight's win extends their lead to two games. In tomorrow's finale CC Sabathia goes up against James Shields.
Posted by: David
Jake Westbrook was masterful for seven innings and along with some help from the umpires he held the Yankees to two hits and one run. The lone Yankee run was from a home run off the bat of Nick Swisher.

Javier Vazquez was almost as good as he surrendered only a home run to Travis Hafner and a RBI double from Shin Soo Choo and Cleveland led 2-1 going into the eighth.

Earlier in the game, Mark Texeira worked a walk and A-Rod lined a ball to left which was clearly trapped by the left fielder Trevor Crowe. Crowe fired to second to try and force Tex, but to his amazement the umpire ruled that he had caught the ball and Texeira was easily doubled off of first.

Curtis Granderson also just missed a home run after Jorge Posada had walked and tried for a double but was thrown out at second on a fine throw from Choo. The replay showed that Granderson got his foot in but the umpire rang him up.

In the Yankee eighth, Posada singled to left after being down 0-2. Curtis Granderson hit a no doubter this time, well back into the right field grandstand to give the Yankees the lead at 3-2.

Vazquez started the eighth and gave up a lead-off walk. It was not Joba Chamberlain who was called in, but rather David Robertson. Robertson induced a hard grounder to short which Jeter back handed and turned into a double play. Boone Logan replaced Robertson and struck out Choo to end the inning.

The Yankees could not add any insurance runs and Mo was summoned with only a one run lead. Carlos Santana, a rookie, led off and lofted a soft single to center to start the inning. Travis Hafner barely hit the ball and Mo fielded it half way between the mound and the plate and retired Hafner for the first out. Santana took second on the play. Peralta broke his bat and grounded out to A-Rod and Matt Laporta then grounded out to Cano at second to end the game.

For Rivera, it is his 21st save in 23 save opportunities and the 547th of his career. His season ERA now stands at 0.96.
Posted by: David
The game started off with Javier Vazquez cruising through the first four innings. The Yankees had jumped out to a 5-0 lead off Joel Pineiro but Javy lost it in the fifth inning. The Angels came roaring back and scored three runs. Vazquez had more pitches in the fifth inning then he had in the previous four combined. The Angels did Vazquez a favor when Aybar tried to steal third with one out and Cervelli gunned him down. Vazquez struck out the next batter and the Yankees had the lead at 6-3.

In the sixth, Vazquez did not retire a batter and surrendered a two run home run to Hideki Matsui to pull the Angels to within a run at 6-5.

The Yankees erupted however with the Baby Yankees from down on the farm contributing. Juan Miranda hit a home run to deep right and then a very unusual play happened. The Yankees had two runners on and Brett Gardner was at bat. When the count got to 0-2 he must have argued too much and got tossed. Colin Curtis was inserted to complete the AB and delivered a three run homer to give the Yankees a comfortable lead at 10-5.

Joba Chamberlain gave up one run and Mo was summoned for the ninth even though the game was not in a save situation. Rivera retired Matsui on a bouncer back to the mound for the first out. Mike Napoli popped out to second and Juan Rivera struck out swinging to end the game.

Rivera is 3-1 on the season with 20 saves in 22 save opportunities. His 2010 season ERA now stands at 0.98.
Posted by: Patrick
Mariano Rivera spoke with ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley about George Steinbrenner.

"The character that he has and the willing heart that he has, that always made him special," Rivera said. "[I'm] definitely missing him. ... For the first time, you know for sure he ain't gonna be here, period."
Posted by: David
After the thrashing the Bombers took yesterday, Sunday afternoon did not start off that well either. Carlos Pena launched a three run home run in the first inning to vault the Rays to an early lead.

The Yankees rallied back with a key two run triple from Robinson Cano to pull within a run. Pettitte continued to struggle but did not allow any more runs. However, he finished a pitch rather gingerly in the third and the trainer and Girardi were summoned. Pettitte was removed from the game and David Robertson came in early. Robinson entered with two runners on, but got out of further trouble and the third inning proved to be the key inning in the ball game.

The Yankees tied the score when Jeter got on and stole second and scored on a double from Teixeira.

Robinson also worked the fourth and was followed by Boone Logan and Chan Ho Park. They surrendered only one run on a home run from Gabe Kapler.

In the fifth the Yankees erupted against David Price with Brett Gardner stealing second and scoring on a RBI single from Derek Jeter. Jeter moved over to third and was brought home with a single up the middle from A-Rod. Jorge Posada got a key two run double to deep left center to score two and gives the Yankees a four run lead at 7-3.

Swisher would add an RBI single, A-Rod connected for his 598th career home run and Joba Chamberlain came on for the eighth. He pitched a scoreless eighth but tired in the ninth and gave up doubles to Pena and Matt Joyce to score a run. Rivera was summoned to get the final out and did so by throwing only one pitch to get Reid Bringnac to pop out to second to end the game with the Yankees winning 9-5. Rivera's ERA now stands at 1.01.
Posted by: David
Nick Swisher came through all night long for the Yankees on Friday night in the Bronx. The game was extremely emotional for the players and fans as before the game the Yankees had ceremonies to honor the passing of long time public address announcer Bob Sheppard and "The Boss" George Steinbrenner.

The Yankees fell behind early as a throwing error from A-Rod led to the Rays scoring a first inning run. The Rays added another run on a two out double from Evan Longoria. It looked like the best play would have been to walk Longoria, but the Yankees pitched to him and it cost them a run.

Swisher got his first hit of the night with a sharp single to right to score Brett Gardner and pull the Yankees to within a run at 2-1. The Rays extended the lead to 3-1 as Sabathia was not at sharp as he was during his last eight wins.

James Shields was cruising for the Rays and had the Yankees off balance all night with his change up. However, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada hit back to back home runs to tie the score in the middle of the game.

Sabathia gave the lead right back, but limited the damage to one run as the Rays loaded the bases with no outs. It was then Swisher time again as he connected off stellar set up man Joaquin Benoit to tie the score at four.

Rivera entered in the ninth and was unlucky to start the inning as he sawed the bat off in the hands of B.j. Upton but the shards from the bat was heading toward A-Rod and it distracted him from making the catch an the ball fell for a lead off single. Mo then picked off Upton and got All-Stars Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria to end the inning. Crawford flied out to shallow right an Longoria was caught looking.

The Yankees were set up for a walk off. Curtis Granderson led off with a single off Randy Choate and was sacrificed to second by Ramiro Pena. Brett Gardner battled out a walk before Derek Jeter struck out for the second out. Swisher then delivered with his third hit of the game and his third RBI to win the game for the Yankees with a sharp single to right. Gabe Kapler threw to home but Granderson just slid in safely ahead of the tag.

With the win Rivera is now 3-1 on the season and his ERA was lowered to 1.02. The Yankees extended their lead in the AL East to three games over the Rays. Tomorrow should be just as emotional with the celebration of Old Timers Day.
Posted by: David
At the start of the 2010 season it looked like as long as Trevor Hoffman was going to continue to be a somewhat effective closer that it would be difficult for Mariano Rivera to catch him for the all time saves lead.

However, Hoffman has had a terrible year. He only has 5 saves on the season and also has 5 blown saves. Currently, he has been supplanted in the closer role for the Milwaukee Brewers by John Axford. Axford is ten for ten in save opportunities.

Hoffman has 596 career saves and is 42 years old and realistically close to the end of his career. Rivera has 546 saves and is pitching as well or better than ever. He has 20 saves in 22 save opportunities and pitches to a stellar ERA of 1.05. Hoffman's ERA is over 8 runs per game.

If Hoffman does not get back in a closer role and if Mo has a second half similar to his first half he could be only about a season away from overtaking Hoffman.

Would it be foolish to think that Mo could be the first to get the magic 600 number?
Posted by: Patrick
On July 2, we mentioned that you could vote for Mariano Rivera as the MLB Clutch Performer of the Month for June 2010.

MLB.com's Tim Brown reports that Mo took home the honor, receiving 37% of the vote. Brennan Boesch came in second with 24%. Rivera pitched 13 scoreless innings in the month.

Thanks Mr. Diaz for the tip.
Posted by: David
Andy Pettitte was brilliant again. He worked eight strong innings and allowed only one run due to his own throwing error. He was able to work out of jams in the sixth and eighth and his teammates tied the score late to give him a chance.

in the top of the ninth with Jeter on first, Nick Swisher collected his fourth hit of the night, a double which put runners on second and third with only one out. Mark Teixeira popped out but A-Rod delivered against hard throwing David Aardsma with a clutch two run single to right to give the Yankees the lead at 3-1.

Mo came on in the bottom of the ninth and pitched a perfect inning for his 20th save in 22 save opportunities. Despite the reports about him going to miss the All-Star game with a soreness in his side and right knee he showed no sign of being injured.

Casey Kotchman battled with a twelve pitch AB but eventually struck out. Josh Bard grounded to Tex unassisted for the second out and Josh Wilson battled to 3-2, but then flew out to left to end the game.

Rivera lowered his ERA for the 2010 season to 1.05. He now has 546 saves for his career.
Posted by: Patrick
Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger reports that Mariano Rivera has removed himself from the 2010 American League All-Star Team roster due to injury.

According to the story, he's been pitching through an oblique injury since May and also some inflammation in his right knee, affecting his ability to push off. Though he's kept pitching, he'd rather take the All-Star break off in an effort to get healthier.
Posted by: Patrick
As David mentioned, Mariano Rivera has been named to the 2010 American League All-Star team. It's his 11th All-Star appearance and his 3rd consecutive.
Posted by: David
Mo rebounded nicely on Monday night in Oakland with a perfect ninth inning to record his 19th save of the 2010 season.

Javier Vazquez was great for seven innings. He allowed only three hits and was helped with great defensive plays from A-Rod, Curtis Granderson and Colin Curtis.

The Yankees scored two runs early and Texeira added a home run late to give the Yankees a two run lead back.

Rivera got Sweeney to ground out unassisted to first then retired Suzuki and Cust on fly balls to the outfield. The save was number 545 for his career. His 2010 season ERA now stands at 1.08.

On Sunday afternoon, Mariano was named an AL All-Star for the 11th time in his career.
Posted by: David
Mo is human after all. He had not surrendered a run in 16 appearances but on the home stand finale, Mo gave up three hits in an inning for the first time this year and one of them was a looping single to center off of DeWayne Wise to score the tying run and hence blow the save.

The Yankees won in the 11th on a pinch hit single off the bat of Marcus Thames who had just returned from the DL for the game.

Rivera is 2-1 on the season with 18 saves in 20 save opportunities and his ERA rose to 1.11.
Posted by: Patrick
The July 4 issue of The New York Times Magazine has a great cover feature on Mariano Rivera, which you can read on their website. They also have a very slick accompanying video feature describing how Mo dominates hitters. Check out the cover below.

Mariano Rivera on the Cover of the July 4 Issue of The New York Times Magazine

Thanks Mr. D'Agostino for the tip.
Posted by: David
Joba Chamberlain could not hold a one run lead in the eighth and as a result eliminated the chance for Mo to get another save. Rivera entered in the ninth with the scored tie at home and did not give up a run.

John Buck led off the ninth by grounding to third for the first out. Rookie Hoffpauir lifted a soft single to right center on a 3-2 pitch. Fred Lewis grounded into a force play short to second for the second out. That brought up Alex Gonzalez. On a 1-1 pitch Mo came inside and it looked like the pitch hit Gonzalez. However, the umpire ruled that the pitch hit the bat and it was ruled a foul ball. Gonzales struck out swinging on the next pitch to end the inning. Rivera lowered his ERA for the 2010 season to 0.86.

The Yankees could not muster any offense against the Jays bullpen and David Robertson eventually gave up an RBI single to Gonzales on a hanging curve ball. He was replaced by Chan Ho Park and he was able to get the second out but then walked in a run with the bases loaded to give the Jays a 3-1 lead. He then threw gasoline on the fire when DeWayne Wise tripled to right center to clear the bases and make the score 6-1 which ended up being the final.

The Blue Jays and Yankees continue the series this afternoon with Ricky Romero facing Andy Pettitte.
Posted by: Patrick
Over on MLB.com, you can vote for Mariano Rivera as June's Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Month. Rivera's competition for the honor include Adrian Gonzalez, Brennan Boesch, Josh Hamilton, Josh Johnson and Troy Glaus.

Thanks Mr. D'Agostino for the tip.
Posted by: David
CC Sabathia was cruising but could not quite get through the eighth inning. A key passed ball from Jorge Pasada moved the baserunners to second and third and they scored on a two run single from Russell Branyan which, at the time, tied the score at two.

In the Yankee half of the eighth, Texeira got a one out single and A-Rod followed with a two run homer into the right field grandstand to give the Yankees the lead at 4-2.

Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 18th save in 19 tries. Milton Bradley battled but eventually flied out deep to right field. Bradley, a switch-hitter actually batted right handed to avoid the cutter from Mo. Jose Lopez grounded out to third on the first pitch and Josh Wilson struck out swinging to end the game.

The save for Rivera was the 544th of his career. His 2010 season ERA now stands at 0.89. Sabathia was credited with the 10th win of the season and joins fellow Yankee Phil Hughes and Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Bucholz for second places in wins behind David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays who leads the AL with 11.

The Yankees salvaged one win of the series after being manhandled by Cliff Lee on Tuesday night and King Felix Hernandez last night in the first two games of the series.