Mo makes history as Yanks come back for win

Toronto's win expectancy peaked at 96.4% after Jose Bautista walked to lead off the fifth.

This one looked pretty bad early on. Like, really bad. Will the score be so out of hand that Dellin Betances and/or Andrew Brackman actually get to pitch bad. And yet, a few innings later, there was Mariano Rivera on the mound, nailing down the 601st save of his career. Hooray for come from behind wins…

  • You typically can’t have a comeback win without awful pitching, so Bartolo Colon jumped on the grenade Saturday afternoon. The big fella lasted just four innings, exiting the game after allowing six runs on seven hits and a walk. He threw only 67 pitches, and his Game Score of 25 was the 11th worst by a Yankees pitcher this season. Colon now has a 7.98 ERA in 23.2 IP against Toronto this season, but a 3.06 ERA in 132.1 IP against everyone else. Good thing the Jays aren’t going to the postseason, eh?
  • The Yankees were down four-zip heading into the fourth, and that’s when they started to chip away. Curtis Granderson scored the team’s first run when Adam Loewen dropped a fly ball in lefty, and the inning would have been bigger if it wasn’t for Robinson Cano‘s stupid baserunning. With men on second and third with one out, Nick Swisher clubbed a deep fly ball that Colby Rasmus managed to run down for the second out. Either Cano wasn’t paying attention or he forgot how many outs there were or something else, but he kept running and passed Mark Teixeira (the lead baserunner) on the bases to end the inning. It’s the second time on the road trip that Robbie make a huge baserunning blunder, and Tex called him out on it after the game.
  • After Colon gave two runs back in the bottom of the inning, the Yankees went to work. Teixeira (who had a pair of hits back up the middle, not his usually pull happy stuff) drove in Grandy, then two batters later Alex Rodriguez ripped a line drive three-run homer over the left field wall to make it 6-5. Alex singled in his first at-bat, and both hits came on inside fastballs. Pretty good sign following the thumb injury. Granderson completed the comeback in the seventh, when he whacked a two-run homer to center on the 12th pitch of a monster at-bat. Curtis was a triple shy of the cycle, and it all started with a first inning bunt single. As they say, sometimes a little bunt hit can help end a slump.
  • All the runs were great, but they wouldn’t have meant anything if it wasn’t for five stellar innings from the bullpen. Scott Proctor took over in the fifth and immediately walked leadoff man Jose Bautista, but that was it. Adam Lind grounded into a double play as the next batter, and the bullpen retired the final 14 batters they faced. Aaron Laffey threw the sixth, Hector Noesi the seventh, Rafael Soriano the eighth (struck out the side for the second straight day), and of course Mo handled the ninth. As you already know, he tied Trevor Hoffman for the most career saves in baseball history. It doesn’t get any better than that, just a stellar job by the relief corps. All five of ’em.
  • The Rays beat the Red  Sox, so the lead in the division increased to 4.5 games while wildcard lead remained at 7.5. The magic number to clinch a playoff spot is just five. Here’s the box score, here’s the advanced stats, and here’s the standings.

The rubber game of this series will be played Sunday afternoon, when Freddy Garcia starts against Brandon Morrow at 1:07pm ET. It was supposed to be Dustin McGowan for Toronto, but he had to start Friday after Brett Cecil cut his finger cleaning a blender.

Open Thread: 601

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

Mariano Rivera made history this afternoon, recording his 601st career save to tie Trevor Hoffman for the most in the baseball history. Every save he picks up from here on out will just add to the history, but like I’ve said before, Mo didn’t need the saves record to validate his position as the greatest reliever of all-time.

After the game, commenter Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat did some research and dug up the winning pitcher for each of Mo’s milestone saves…

1Andy Pettitte
100 – Orlando Hernandez
200 – Sterling Hitchcock
300Javy Vazquez
400 – Jaret Wright
479Phil Coke (passed Lee Smith for second place on the all-time saves list)
500Chien-Ming Wang
600A.J. Burnett
601 – Aaron Laffey

I’ll add one more to the list, number 225. That was another El Duque win, and it moved Mo past Dave Righetti for the most saves in team history. Who’s  going to be number 602? I honestly hope it’s not Freddy Garcia, he’s starting tomorrow and I want to see Mo get the record at home. So let’s hope for a blowout win on Sunday and then a save situation sometime next week.

Anyways, here is tonight’s open thread. There’s a ton of college football on, plus MLB Network will be airing a game (teams depend on where you live). You can talk about that, Mo’s awesomeness, or anything else you want. Have at it.

Hughes’ next start pushed back due to back spasms

Via Marc Carig, Phil Hughes‘ next start has been pushed back due to back spasms. He was scheduled to pitch Monday against the Twins, but A.J. Burnett will now make that start on five day’s rest. Hughes thinks he’ll be ready to go for Tuesday, but even if he’s not, the Yankees have plenty of pitching options for that day. As always with September injuries, take as much time as you need now so it’s not a problem later.

Cool Standings ranks the top collapses

I don’t want to jinx anything (you don’t believe in that stuff, do you?), but I thought this was pretty neat: Cool Standings put together a list of the biggest collapses in baseball history based on the team’s peak playoff chances. For example, the 2007 Mets had 99.5% chance to make the postseason on Sept. 13th, but we all know what happened there. Amazingly enough, that’s only the third biggest collapse in history. The 1995 Angels had a 99.9% chance (!!!) to make the postseason in August 24th, but they finished the season on a 12-23 skid and one game back of the Mariners. I imagine the internet would have exploded back then.

 

Rays @ Red Sox Game Thread

The Rays and Red Sox are playing this afternoon, a game that is very relevant to the Yankees. Unfortunately, if you’re in New York, you won’t be able to watch because the Mets and Braves will be on FOX. I know a ton of you folks are outside the Tri-State though, so here’s a thread to talk about the game. Game starts at 4pm, and it’ll be Niemann vs. Lester.

Update: The game is on FOX Sports Deportes in New York. It’s channel 125 for me on Time Warner in NYC. The broadcast is in Spanish, obviously.

Game 150: A-Rod’s back, yet again

How can you expect to get a hit ... when you're not even using a real bat? (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

After missing another six days because of that sprained left thumb, Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup this afternoon, but in an unfamiliar spot. He’s hitting fifth for the first time in the Joe Girardi Era, and the first time since September 6th of 2006. Here’s the box score for that game. Seven innings of one-hit ball from Randy Johnson, neat. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B – .244/.337/.488
Robinson Cano, 2B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B – .284/.367/.475 … why is he batting fifth and not Tex?
Nick Swisher, RF
Jesus Montero, DH
Brett Gardner, LF
Austin Romine, C

Bartolo Colon, SP

The game is scheduled to start at 1:07pm ET, and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

No fearing the Texas two-step

Trying to pick a favorable playoff opponent is a fool’s errand. Prefer Detroit? Then prepare to face Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and a bullpen that has led the team to a 72-0 record when leading after 7 innings. Prefer Los Angeles? They have perhaps the best starting pitching troika in the American League in Weaver, Haren and Santana. If Texas is your cup of tea, then you’ll have to contend with groundball artist C.J. Wilson and the potent Rangers’ offense. There’s no easy first round opponent for the Yankees this year. The Twins will be sitting at home.

Despite all that, one has to imagine that the Yankees would represent the worst-case scenario in the ALDS for the Texas Rangers. Not only will the Rangers likely be facing the Yankees in New York for the first two games, instead of hosting the Red Sox or Rays, but the Yankees would also be able to blunt one of the Rangers’ biggest advantages: their two strong left-handed starters. As it stands, the likely ALDS starters for the Rangers are C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. Wilson and Holland have been tough this year, but there’s reason to think that the Yankees can handle left-handed starting pitching with ease this October. After all, they’ve dominated left-handed pitching all year.

Should the Yankees choose to start Andruw Jones over Brett Gardner against a left-handed starter in the ALDS, seven of their nine hitters will have compiled an OPS of over .850 against left-handed pitchers this season. The two that miss the cut are Russell Martin and Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez is currently in the middle of a curious slump against left-handed pitching. Despite a career average of .947 OPS against left-handers, he’s currently batting .783 against them this year after a .755 mark in 2010. If he’s even a modicum of his former self in the playoffs, then the Yankees attack on left-handed starters will be potent.

The reason for this strength against lefties is comprised of several factors. For one, the left-handed batters have shown the ability to hit lefties consistently well. Curtis Granderson in particular stands out. Once nearly a platoon player, Granderson punishes lefties and righties with nearly equal pleasure. Robinson Cano does the same. There’s also Jesus Montero, perhaps the greatest source of offensive upside in the Yankees’ lineup. Projecting his performance is nearly impossible, but he has a minor league track record and a small major league performance to drool over. Finally there’s Andruw Jones, long the abuser of left-handed starters. Should the Yankees choose to sacrifice Gardner’s speed and defense for Jones’ offense then they’ll truly be formidable at the plate. Their two main focal points of weakness would be Russell Martin, a defensive stalwart, and Alex Rodriguez, possibly the greatest hitter of all time. Everything else is gravy.

This isn’t to guarantee a win against Wilson or Holland; they’re still very tough pitchers. But it does show that facing Wilson and Holland twice in the first three games of the American League Division Series would give give the Yankees a nice platoon advantage. At the end of the day, it’s hard to know who to cheer for as a first-round opponent. In 2006 I wanted the Tigers in the first-round, and we all remember how that turned out. Yet, should the Yankees draw Texas I won’t fear them like before. This time there’s no Cliff Lee, and this time the team will field an offense capable of bludgeoning starting pitchers, righties and lefties alike. This team may have a few questions about the rotation, but the offense couldn’t be much better.