Blue Jays blow three-run lead in loss to Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus celebrate Rasmus' fourth-inning home run Wednesday night against the Yankees. (Ernest Doroszuk, QMI Agency)
The Blue Jays will honour the great Mariano Rivera before Thursday’s game at the Rogers Centre with a special presentation before the first pitch.
On Wednesday night they tried to give the New York Yankees closer another present: A blown save.
Down a run, Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus singled to open the ninth.
Were the Jays in the driver’s seat?
His career may be winding down, but all Rivera needed was nine more pitches and as they used say at the big ballpark in the Bronx when Goose Gossage entered, “Warm up the bus ... this one is over.”
Rivera saved a 4-3 Yankees win over the Jays in front of 24,247.
“He’s the cheese (the best),” said Adam Lind. “He jammed me, got me on the thumb and on the leg on a pitch I fouled off. Don’t write that until they leave town.”
“Cutter, cutter, cutter, you know what you are going to get from him every pitch. You have to hope he leaves something over the plate,” said Brett Lawrie, the first man Rivera faced with two out in the eighth and Rajai Davis on second. Lawrie bounced out.
After allowing the singles to Lind and Rasmus opening the ninth, Menenori Kawasaki pinch hit for Moises Sierra with instructions to get a bunt down. First baseman Lyle Overbay was close enough to smell Kawasaki’s aftershave and, Don Mattingly style, fielded the bunt on one hop and fired a strike to third.
Ryan Goins dribbled a weak grounder and J.P. Arencibia went down swinging on three pitches, the catcher’s average falling onto the Interstate at .199.
And Rivera had his 44th save of the season, his final year.
“He throws the same pitch every time. You know it is coming, yet it is so tough to get a good swing on it, you see the ball coming,” said Jose Reyes, cocking an imaginary bat, his eyes widening, “and you think, ‘oh man, I’m going to crush this pitch ... and the pitch cuts in on your hands.”
The greatness of Rivera and return to greatness of the Yankees came in 1995, when New York beat the Jays 6-1 to win a wild-card berth, clinching its first post-season berth since 1981. As Gerald Williams caught Shawn Green’s liner for the final out, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner hugged Blue Jays president Paul Beeston in a skybox on the 300 level.
That year Rivera was a green rook with a 5-3 record, a 5.51 ERA, without a cutter in 19 appearances, 10 of them starts. The next year he was setting up for closer John Wetteland, picking up the first of his five saves against the California Angels and in 1997 he began closing for the Yanks and he has not stopped since. This was his 652nd save and it was a game which did not look as if he’d get an opportunity to work. J.A. Happ was happy, happy, happy. As happy as a camel on hump day, putting up seven zeros in under 100 pitches with an altered arm angle.
“The adjustment feels a lot more than it actually is,” Happ told reporters.
The 3-0 Jays lead came and went in the eighth. When Happ left after a lead-off double to Brendan Ryan, on came Aaron Loup. Loup and Steve Delabar faced six hitters, retiring one — Delabar fanned Alex Rodriguez — and 20 pitches there was the lead ... gone.
Granderson singled off Loup, Robinson Cano singled in a run against Delabar, Alfonso Soriano doubled in a run and then former Blue Jay Vernon Wells doubled in a pair of runs to give the Yankees the lead.
Rivera entered with two out in the bottom half to a standing ovation.
Rivers picked up his 54th career save against the Jays. He now has a career 8-2 record with a career 1.81 ERA. His save total against the Jays is fourth most against any team: He has 79 against the Orioles, 64 facing the Tampa Bay Rays and 58 against the Boston Red Sox.
Rasmus homered for his fourth consecutive game since returning from the disabled list, slamming a 2-1 Phil Hughes fastball over the fence for a two-run homer in the fourth.
Second baseman Goins also homered in the fourth to increase the Jays lead to 3-0.