UPDATE: Mariano Rivera may have wanted to pitch today, but the Yankees turned to Boone Logan and then Alfredo Aceves to close out a 7-5 victory in a messy ninth inning. With a scheduled day off tomorrow, Joe Girardi apparently wanted to give Rivera extra rest before the series against Boston begins Friday.
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Unavailable for the past two games because of soreness in his left side, Mariano Rivera said this morning that he “feels better” and “could go out there” if needed this afternoon against the Orioles.
Actually, he said the second day off “wasn’t necessary.” Obviously it’s tough to blame the Yankees for playing it safe with Rivera, especially since Joba Chamberlain converted both save opportunities while filling in.
Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com notes that Chamberlain is the first Yankees pitcher other than Rivera to “record consecutive saves since Juan Acevedo in 2003 and Mike Stanton in 1998.”
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.