Mariano Rivera blows seventh save, but Yankees win on walk-off wild pitch

13 Comments

The four-game series against the Red Sox has been a nightmare for the Yankees, but it has mercifully ended on a good note for the Bronx Bombers. With his team leading 3-2 in the ninth inning, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera surrendered a lead-off game-tying solo home run to Will Middlebrooks, his seventh save of the season. Rivera had blown seven or more saves just twice previously in his career: seven in 2001, and nine in 1997.

Fortunately for Rivera, the Yankees were able to manufacture a walk-off victory against Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman. With one out, Ichiro Suzuki singled to center, then promptly stole second base. Vernon Wells flied out to right for the second out of the inning, but Suzuki tagged and went to third base. On the first pitch to Alfonso Soriano, Workman threw a 94 MPH fastball neck-high over the plate to Alfonso Soriano. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, positioned to catch the pitch low and away, couldn’t grab it and the ball sailed to the backstop and caromed towards the first base side, allowing Suzuki to saunter home for the walk-off victory.

The Yankees were on the verge of suffering a four-game series sweep at the hands of their bitter rival. Despite scoring eight runs or more in each of the past three games, the Yankees’ pitching could not get the job done. Rivera blew his sixth save on Thursday, the entire bullpen imploded on Friday, and starter David Huff was tagged for nine runs yesterday.

With the Rays in progress, the Red Sox temporarily drop to eight games ahead in first place in the AL East, and the Yankees move to two games behind them for the second Wild Card.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
4 Comments

The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.