Performances like today's from Mariano Rivera serve as a reminder of just how lucky this team has been to have him at the end of their bullpen for the past dozen years. For plenty of closers in the league, loading the bases and creating a mess for themselves is an every day thing. For Mo, it almost never happens. Today, it happened in a big way.
Mo came in to lock down a 2-0 win for Mike Mussina. He followed Veras and Farnsworth to the mound, after each looked impressive in setting the Sox down in order in the 7th and 8th innings, respectively. Mo was to face the heart of the Boston lineup, J.D. Drew, Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell. Things started poorly with a dinker that fell in from Drew, and a two-seamer that got away from Mo and beaned Manny. Lowell then tied the game with a single to right. It was first and second, no one out, and obviously, I wasn't sweating yet. This is Mo after all.
Up next was Kevin Youkilis, who leaned into a pitch and somehow managed not to head to the hospital for x-rays. Antics aside, the bases were now loaded with Sox and there was still no one out. This is where I began to sweat. I guess it didn't help when Tim McCarver and Joe Buck were saying "If the Yankees lose this game, their season is over." Which, while laughable, was still annoying. Anyway, Coco Crisp came up (Coco looks more and more like a transvestite every time I see shim play, by the way). Mo sat him down on a weak hack. Then Varitek came to the plate, still wearing that asinine C on his jersey, and popped out to Betemit at first. Two outs, tying run on third, go-ahead run on second and Mo obviously does not have it. Up steps Julio Lugo, down goes Lugo. Mo sat him down and the game was over
. The guy never broke a sweat out there, never panicked. What could've been a heart-breaking loss, and probably would've been had anyone other than Mo been out there for the final three outs, turns into a big win for this team.
The Yankee offense continued to sputter against yet another rookie, Justin Masterson. I was not impressed with Masterson's stuff at all, this being the first time I've seen him pitch. The Yankees just continue to struggle in key situations and are leaving way too many runs on the bases.
Brett Gardner's career line of 1/16 isn't impressive, but he did plate the winning run with a sac fly. We're going to be seeing plenty of him in the coming days/weeks thanks to Johnny Damon's injury. He needs to start hitting like he belongs here. His presence does seem to have awakened Melky Cabrera's bat. The Melk Man was 2 for 4 and drove in the other Yankee run.
I don't know how many times I can say this offense needs to wake up, but I'll go ahead and say it one more time. Until this team can put 5 runs on the board consistently, they're going to hover right around the .500 mark, and the Sox and Rays are going to continue to put distance between them.
Jobamania vs. Wakefield tomorrow night. Making solid contact off Wakefield is never a sure thing, but one thing is. You can run on him all day and all night. The Yanks need to force the action with their speed and capitalize on every opportunity. Sunday night baseball, Yanks/Sox. Joba should be pumped and I'm looking for a dominant performance out of him to salvage a split in this series.
Just for reference, through 88 games last year the Yanks were 44-44, 9.5 games out of first.Player of The Game:
Moooooooose. 6 shutout innings to pick up his 11th win of the season.Team Record: