Mariano Rivera blows save, Red Sox beat Yankees, 9-8, in extra innings
The Yankees' six-run seventh inning rally was all for naught as the Red Sox tie the game off Mariano Rivera in the ninth and win in 10 innings.
This would’ve been the best retaliation of all for those fireworks at Fenway last month. But the Yankees’ remarkable comeback against Boston Thursday night crumbled when Mariano Rivera blew a save in the ninth inning and the Red Sox won in the 10th.
Along the way, there was a disputed check-swing call that allowed Shane Victorino to then single in the winning run in Boston’s 9-8 victory, a poor throw by Austin Romine on Quintin Berry’s key steal, a bizarre baserunning sequence for Alfonso Soriano, a bummer of a start by Ivan Nova and no payback for last month’s Ryan Dempster flap.
And, oddly, swaths of empty seats at the Stadium for the opener of a crucial four-game series loaded with playoff implications for two bitter rivals.
It all added up to a night of temporary euphoria that soured into angst for the Yankees, who are desperately seeking a route into the playoffs. They started the night hoping they could still be a factor in the division race, although they are now nine games behind first-place Boston. They remain 2.5 games behind Tampa Bay in the race for the second wild card. “It’s a tough loss, there’s no doubt about it, but we’ve got to bounce back,” Joe Girardi said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself. I like the way our guys fought back and if we continue to play like that, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
The Yankees had rallied from a 7-2 deficit with a six-run seventh inning and seemed a lock to win after David Robertson threw a scoreless eighth and Rivera came jogging in from the bullpen for the ninth.
“At that point, I think we got the game, but they never gave up,” Soriano said.
But Rivera, pitching for the third consecutive day, suffered his sixth blown save of the season after getting the first two outs of the ninth. He allowed a single to Mike Napoli and then saw pinch-runner Berry steal second and go to third on Romine’s throwing error. Romine later blamed himself for the steal, saying he held the ball too long.
Stephen Drew followed with a broken-bat RBI single to right that tied the score at 8. Rivera, who had gotten four outs in Wednesday’s win over the White Sox, said his recent workload was not a factor. “I was fine, it wasn’t an issue,” he stressed. “A broken bat over (Robinson) Cano’s head, you can’t do nothing. It’s part of the game.
“It was a tough one. We just have to forget about it and come in tomrorrow.”
Victorino’s winner came after he had checked his swing on what would’ve been strike three. Television replays showed he broke his wrists, but plate umpire Rob Drake did not call it, and when Drake asked first-base ump Joe West for help, West said Victorino didn’t swing, too.
The Yankees, not surprisingly, thought differently, and pitcher Joba Chamberlain was ejected by West after expressing his opinion. “I do (think he swung),” Girardi said. “It’s frustrating, because I thought he went. But you have to be able to overcome things.”
Added Romine: “I thought he swung. That was a pretty big key moment in the game, that he swung.” On Victorino’s hit, the Yankees had a potential play at the plate, but Ellsbury scored. Romine said he didn’t get a good glove on the ball.
“Those are tough plays,” Girardi said.
Nova, who was the AL Pitcher of the Month for August, didn’t resemble that pitcher Thursday night. His pitch count soared so quickly — he threw 47 pitches in the third inning alone — that he lasted only four innings, giving up three runs. He was replaced by Preston Claiborne to start the fifth, but Claiborne was awful, allowing three runs without retiring a batter.
The Yankees trailed, 7-2, entering the seventh, and many fans from the announced crowd of 40,481 had already left. But the Yanks erupted for six runs. Lyle Overbay, dumped by the Red Sox in spring training, delivered the go-ahead hit, a two-run single.
In the ninth, the Yanks had a final chance when Soriano walked and was credited with a stolen base after foiling a pickoff. But he was picked off second.
Heading into the game, most of the baseball world was wondering whether the Yankees would retaliate for Dempster’s actions, including Major League Baseball.
Nothing happened, other than another tight rivalry game.
“It’s a little tough,” Soriano said of the loss. “But we don’t have to put our heads down. There are three more games left, and I hope we come with the same energy and same attitude.”