Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rivera's Tie Game Woes Continue

Mo is in Knots Over Tie games

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tampa Bay
0 0 0 0 2 3 0 0 4
9 9 4
NY Yankees
0 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 2
7 7 2

WP - Howell (1-2) SV - Choate (3) LP - Rivera (0-2)

When it comes to saving ball games, there haven’t been many closers that have been as reliable as Mariano Rivera. But over the last couple of years, Rivera has been anything but reliable when entering a tie game. The trend continued yesterday when the Yankees rallied from a 5-3 deficit to tie the game, only to see Rivera be tagged for four runs in a 9-5 Tampa Bay Rays victory.

Ben Zobrist opened the top of the 9th with a triple to the gap in left-center field and scored the game’s go ahead run on a single by Joe Dillon. Rivera recorded the next two outs, but with Dillon on third base, Joe Girardi elected to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Evan Longoria and face B.J. Upton instead. Upton was just 1-7, with 6 strikeouts, lifetime against Rivera so the move made sense. But Upton ripped a line drive back up the middle for an RBI single and a 7-5 Rays lead. Rivera was still upset about the decision to walkLongoria after the game had ended.

“That’s the manager’s decision, if it was me I would pitch to him,” Rivera said when asked about the decision to walk Longoria. “That’s what I do. I’m not going to go there to intentionally walk guys. I think I have good stuff to get people out. But that’s the manager’s decision. That’s why I’m not the manager.”

Rivera was lifted for one of the rare times in the 9th inning, giving way to Phil Coke. But Coke allowed an RBI single to Carl Crawford and Alex Rodriguez booted Willie Aybar’s grounder for a 9-5 Rays lead. The Yankees had one more rally in them in the bottom of the 9th, cutting the lead to 9-7 on Mark Teixeira’s 2-run double. (Teixeira had earlier hit a tremendous home run off the facing of the third deck to tie Carlos Pena for the AL lead with 17 round trippers.) But Dan Wheeler retired A-Rod on a ground out to third and Jorge Posada on a fly to deep center. Former Yankee Randy Choate came on to face Robinson Cano and got him a deep fly to center that Upton caught up to for the final out.

CC Sabathia went eight innings with mixed results. He was cruising along with a 2-0 lead in the 5th inning when Zobrist hit a solo shot to left field and Dioner Navarro added a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2. The Yankees went back ahead in their half of the inning, against starter David Price, on one of Navarro’s three throwing errors. But Aybar crushed a long 3-run home run to the bullpen in left-center to put the Rays back up 5-3.

Game Notes

Joba Chamberlain
faces Matt Garza in the second game of the series this afternoon (1:05 p.m. ET).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mark Teixeira became the fourth player with at least 17 home runs in his first 200 at-bats (198 in his case) of the season. Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, and Kevin Maas were the others.

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