Unheralded Luis Rodriguez put Mariano Rivera’s pursuit of the major league saves record on hold.
And he kept the New York Yankees from expanding their lead on Boston in the AL East.
Rodriguez led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a solo homer off New York reliever Cory Wade, and the Mariners delayed Rivera’s chase for the saves record with a 2-1 win over the Yankees.
Rodriguez, who doubled in his previous two at-bats, golfed a 2-1 pitch from Wade (5-1) into the right field seats and sent the Yankees off to Toronto looking to get Rivera career save No. 601 on Friday night against the Blue Jays.
New York also missed on a chance to gain another game on the slumping Red Sox after Boston lost at home to Toronto 5-4. The Yankees lead in the AL East remained at four games.
“We lost a lot of one-run games on this trip and that’s the hard part,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We lot three games by one run each. But our club has been pretty good to win two out of three. You’ve got to keep doing that.”
Much of the night was spent waiting to see if Rivera would get his shot at tying Trevor Hoffman’s major league record, a night after becoming just the second pitcher in baseball history to reach 600 saves. And the Yankees bullpen did their part, going 3 1-3 scoreless inning and avoiding trouble on multiple occasions waiting for New York’s offense to score a run and give Rivera the opportunity to pitch for 601.
It never came. Wade left a change up over the plate and Rodriguez made him pay.
The Yankees only offense came from Nick Swisher’s 23rd homer in the top of the seventh inning that ended a strong start from Seattle’s Jason Vargas.
The Yankees had other moments taken away by the Mariners defense. Ichiro Suzuki robbed Curtis Granderson of extra bases with a leaping catch on the warning track in the top of the ninth.
Michael Saunders robbed Mark Teixeira of at least a double and possible a homer with his leaping catch just in front of the wall in deep right-center field to end the 11th.
And rookie Trayvon Robinson made a difficult catch on a tough liner to judge off Brett Gardner’s bat to end the 12th. Robinson’s catch helped make a winner out of Seattle reliever Steve Delabar (1-0), who was a substitute teacher earlier during the baseball season before being signed by the Mariners. It was his first major league victory.