Yanks overcome five-run deficit in Toronto as Mo ties Hoffman with save #601

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

Mariano Rivera once again made history Saturday afternoon in Toronto, throwing a perfect ninth inning to preserve the Yankees’ 7-6 victory over Toronto, earning his 601st career save in the process and tying Trevor Hoffman for the all-time record.

That Mo was even in position to record the save was a testament to a reawakened Yankee offense and more superb work from the bullpen, which pieced together five shutout innings of work in relief of an ineffective Bartolo Colon. It’s a good thing the Blue Jays won’t be making the playoffs, as Colon — who took a 6.84 ERA against the Jays in 2011 into this game — only lasted four innings and gave up six runs, inflating his season ERA against Toronto to 7.99(!). Stripping his 21 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings against the Jays out of his ledger, he actually has a 3.06 ERA against all other opponents. Not that we can magically make those Toronto innings and runs go away, but that’s an important feather in his cap (or arrow in his quiver; whichever idiomatic expression tickles your fancy) with regards to drawing up the playoff rotation.

Down 6-1 after four innings, the Yankees would not go quietly in this one, as Alex Rodriguez punctuated his return to the lineup after  a six-game absence in a big way, blasting a three-run homer in the sixth inning to bring the Yankees to within one run. Toronto rookie Henderson Alvarez wound up completing the sixth, but his final ledger 6 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 1 BB and only one strikeout is just what the doctor ordered.

Following a perfect sixth from Aaron Laffey, Curtis Granderson took Carlos Villanueva deep on a go-ahead two-run shot to put the Yankees ahead 7-6, and that was all she wrote. While not nearly as grand-slam-tastic, this was arguably an even greater comeback than that game against the A’s last month, as the Yankees’ lowest WE in the Oakland game was 5.4% in the top of the 5th, while it fell all the way to 3.6% in the bottom of the fifth inning in this one after Jose Bautista walked to lead the frame off. At .307 WPA, the home-run represented Curtis’ second-biggest WPA swing of the season, so yeah, this was a pretty huge come-from-behind win.

The entire bullpen was stellar, as Laffey, Hector Noesi, Rafael Soriano, Mo and even Scott Proctor didn’t allow a hit to Toronto, and came one walk away from tossing five perfect innings of work. And that walk — the aforementioned Bautista walk by Proctor — was erased by a double play, so the ‘pen actually faced the minimum number of batters. That right there may have been the bullpen’s finest work all season.

Oh, and Grandy also picked up two other hits in addition to the home run and walked twice as part of a perfect day at the plate, while Mark Teixeira had a multi-hit game as well. Be great to see these two get right back to where they’re supposed to be just in time for the playoffs.

The magic number to clinch a postseason berth is now four, and the division eight, which means the Yankees could wrap their playoff spot up as soon as Monday. The Yankees go for their first series win in Toronto since May 2009 tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pm.

10 thoughts on “Yanks overcome five-run deficit in Toronto as Mo ties Hoffman with save #601

  1. Wrapping this game up with mentioning Cano’s baserunning is an achievement. I don’t think I could have gotten it out of my head long enough. I was spitting blood for three innings.

    • I was out at the time so I didn’t see it, though I did see it on the postgame. Pretty brutal on Robbie’s part, and I’d imagine having now done it twice in the past week he’s in for a substantial fine in the team’s kangaroo court. Hopefully a lighter wallet will make him less forgetful next time.

      • When you grew up with Billy Martin’s managing, you long for a manager to take a player who’s made a bonehead play out of the game immediately. That isn’t practical these days, but I sure how Girardi is taking care of this behind the scenes and not leaving it to the Kangaroo Court.

          • What’s he going to do, though? Cano’s old enough and experienced enough to know he did something wrong. Just reminding him to keep his head in the game should suffice.

          • That’s a silly comment. The history of the major leagues is full of ballplayers who were old and experienced enough to know that they were doing things wrong, but they still did them. In fact, Cano is now a second offender himself within a short time.

            And the basic idea that people respond differently to being told something and to having more severe consequences result is pretty established in psychology.

            As to what should be done–I don’t know. That’s the manager’s job. Perhaps he should be reminded in an “edgier” way. Perhaps he should be benched for a game. Perhaps he should have an optional workout made mandatory (although probably not much of that left in the schedule). Maybe for some players it shouldn’t be punishment–maybe some need rest, or to have their feelings of pressure lightened, or whatever.

            But haven’t you ever worked in an office? Or even a fast food restaurant? Can’t you see that people respond differently to different management styles? Can’t you see that some people take things more seriously or less seriously depending on how serious their managers are?

            I’ve managed people, and believe me, people make mistakes when they’re not given feedback, and sometimes they don’t staighten up unless the feedback is delivered more seriously. It’s not linear, of course–you can make it worse by taking away people’s self-confidence and making them worry to much about mistakes.

            Actually, I was a pretty marshmallowy manager–maybe I’m projecting the disciplinarian I sometimes wanted to be onto Girardi. But there are (or were) baseball managers who’s teams seem to be better at avoiding mental mistakes than others. In Ball Four, Jim Bouton criticized Ralph Houk for letting the Yankees get away with lazy play. Bill James’ book on managers is full of stories of managers who could get more out of certain players than other managers could.

            Maybe I just miss Billy Martin. Used to love to watch the Yankees when he was there.