Red Sox best Mariano Rivera, beat Yankees in 10 innings

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Call it “Deja Drew.”

After the Red Sox let a five-run lead slip away, things were going all according to plan for the Yankees on Thursday. David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth up 8-7, and Mariano Rivera retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth. That’s when things unraveled.

Mike Napoli, who was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts lifetime against Rivera, took a two-strike cutter into right-center for a single. September callup Quintin Berry pinch-ran, immediately took off for second and then kept right on going, reaching third when Austin Romine’s throw went into center field.

Stephen Drew, on the very next pitch, got a cutter left over the plate and drove it over Robinson Cano’s head, tying the game at 8.

It was eerily reminiscent of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, when the Red Sox used a Kevin Millar walk, a David Roberts steal and then a Bill Mueller single to tie the game off Rivera, kicking off the greatest comeback in MLB history (they were down three games to none and came back to win the series in seven).

The Red Sox went on to win this one off Joba Chamberlain in the 10th after Jacoby Ellsbury singles, stole second and came around to score on a Shane Victorino single. There was some controversy mixed in; Victorino appeared to strike out on the pitch prior to the single, but first-base ump Joe West ruled he checked his swing.

Koji Uehara followed with a flawless bottom of the 10th for his 18th save.

The blown save was Rivera’s sixth in 47 chances this year. That’s his high total since 2003, when he was 40-for-46. His career high for blown saves was nine, from his first year as a closer in 1997.

It wasn’t a particularly well-played four-hour game for the old rivals. The most notable example came in the bottom of the ninth, when Alfonso Soriano stole the Yankees’ sixth base of the game despite being picked off first, only to follow that with a caught stealing of third base when he was again picked off by Craig Breslow.

On the go-ahead run in the 10th, Romine appeared to have a play on Ellsbury at the plate, but he couldn’t handle the bounce throw from Ichiro Suzuki in right field.

Ivan Nova, the AL Pitcher of the Month for August, came out after throwing 96 pitches in four innings. He gave up three runs. Jake Peavy was better, but the Red Sox brought him back out for the seventh at 105 pitches and he allowed back-to-back batters to reach, kicking off a six-run inning that brought the Yankees back from a 7-2 deficit.

Minor League Baseball eclipses 40 million in attendance for 14th consecutive season

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Minor League Baseball announced on Wednesday that, for the 14th consecutive season, the league has eclipsed 40 million in total attendance. 20 teams set single-game attendance records and seven teams set franchise records for single-game attendance in their current parks.

ESPN’s Keith Law, who has been covering the minor leagues for quite a while, did the math:

Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O’Conner, whose most prominent stint in the public eye involved him disingenuously justifying the underpaying of his players, said, “Minor League Baseball continues to be the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that. For us to top 40 million fans for the 14th consecutive season despite the weather challenges our teams faced in April and May is a testament to the continued support of our loyal fan bases and the creative promotions and hard work done by all of our teams across the country.”

Major and Minor League Baseball are quite happy to make money hand over fist on the backs of their players, but are too cheap to pay them adequately for their labor.