TORONTO (AP) _ To Mariano Rivera, it was just another save. To
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, there’s no such thing.
Rivera tied the major league saves record, earning the 601st of
his career and matching Trevor Hoffman while preserving the New
York Yankees’ 7-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.
“To me it was normal,” Rivera said.
With his team still trying to clinch the AL East, Girardi wasn’t
hearing any of that.
“Right now, they’re all big for us,” he said.
The 41-year-old Rivera was perfect in pitching the ninth inning
for his 42nd save of the season, leaving him on the brink of sole
ownership of the mark.
“602 is the big one because it just puts the final stamp on it
that he’s the greatest closer of all time,” Girardi said.
If Rivera doesn’t get the record Sunday, he’ll likely reach it
sometime during an eight-game homestand that begins Monday.
“I would love to get it at home, but I don’t think like that,”
Rivera struck out Colby Rasmus looking to start the ninth, then
retired Brett Lawrie on a broken-bat grounder to first. While some
in the crowd of 39,288 headed for the exits, most stayed to watch
as Rivera got Eric Thames on a routine fly to center.
Even before the ball had been caught, Rivera walked off the
mound with his head lowered to shake hands with catcher Russell
Martin. Rivera broke into a smile during the postgame
congratulations line and embraced teammate Alex Rodriguez.
Center fielder Curtis Granderson flipped Rivera the souvenir
Rivera, whose wife and two youngest sons joined him in Toronto
for the weekend, told the media hordes gathered around his locker
that he doesn’t enjoy the spotlight of his record pursuit.
“I am uncomfortable because I don’t have this much attention at
all,” he said, smiling. “I would like you guys to just leave it
alone. That would be good.”
Rivera, now in his 17th season in the big leagues, recorded his
600th save at Seattle on Tuesday. He also has 42 saves in
“Mo is awesome,” Rodriguez said. “You just run out of things
to say about him. Every save he’s had in his career meant
something, and tonight was another example of that.”
Blue Jays manager John Farrell called Rivera “the standard by
which all are compared.”
“If you’re a fan of baseball and the game, you appreciate how
good he is, how consistent he is,” Farrell said.
The tying save came in Rivera’s 60th appearance of the year,
surpassing former Yankees teammate Mike Stanton with a record 14
seasons of 60 games.
Granderson hit his 40th homer, a go-ahead shot in the seventh to
cap a 12 pitch at-bat. He fouled off seven straight pitches before
Rodriguez hit his 16th home run as New York ended a two-game
skid. The Yankees trailed 6-1 before beginning their comeback with
four runs in the sixth.
Aaron Laffey (3-2) pitched one inning for the win. Scott
Proctor, Laffey, Hector Noesi and Rafael Soriano each worked a
scoreless inning before Rivera closed it out.
Bartolo Colon, who has not won in eight starts, allowed six runs
and seven hits in four innings for New York.
“It wasn’t great,” Girardi said. “Six runs in four innings is
not what we expect from Bartolo. We’ll see if we can get him back
on track his next start.”
The Yankees closed to 6-5 in the sixth. Granderson led off with
a double and scored when Rasmus bobbled Mark Teixeira’s single to
center. Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch and Rodriguez followed
with his first home run since Sept. 4.
“I came up in the same situation a couple of innings before and
didn’t come through so I was glad to get another opportunity,”
Rodriguez said. “I got a good pitch to hit and capitalized.”
Derek Jeter opened the Yankees seventh with an infield single
and Granderson homered against Carlos Villanueva (6-4).
The Blue Jays scored four times in the second against Colon.
Rasmus and Jose Molina each hit RBI doubles, Lawrie drove in a run
with a groundout and Mike McCoy capped it with a squeeze bunt.
The Yankees answered with a run in the fourth, an inning marked
by Cano’s baserunning blunder. After hitting an RBI double,
Teixeira moved to third when left fielder Adam Loewen dropped
Cano’s fly ball to left. One out later, Nick Swisher hit a liner
into right center but Rasmus made a fine running catch for the
second out. Thinking the ball would drop, Cano rounded third and
passed Teixeira, who was heading back to tag up. Cano was ruled
out, and the Blue Jays got credit for a double play.
“I think Robby thought the ball was going to drop for sure,”
Girardi said. “When Swish hit it, I thought it was going to fall,
too. Still, you’ve got to make sure.”
Toronto added to its lead and chased Colon with two runs in the
bottom half, with McCoy hitting a two-out double to right.
NOTES: Rivera has blown five saves this season. … Rodriguez
batted fifth for the first time this season. He scored the 1,821st
run of his career, tying Eddie Collins for 14th place on the all
time list. … The Yankees are an ML-best 40-11 in day games. …
Yankees RHP Phil Hughes (back spasms) has been scratched from
Monday’s start against Minnesota and will be replaced by RHP A.J.
Burnett. Hughes, who felt sore after Friday’s bullpen session, is
expected to pitch Tuesday or Wednesday. … New York OF Greg Golson
celebrated his 26th birthday. … Loewen made his first start in
left field after previous appearances in right and center. … New
York RHP Freddy Garcia (11-7) faces Toronto RHP Brandon Morrow
(9-11) in Sunday’s series finale.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)