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Mo is the Man -- albeit in the 8th

Mopapers

By Mike Harrington

Nice collage tweeted (above) by MLB Public Relations showing the adulation of today's New York City papers toward Mariano Rivera. As well there should be. As All-Star moments go, there was Ted Williams at the mound with everyone around him in 1999 and there was Mo with the field by himself last night.

I wasn't a fan of how Jim Leyland played this one, frankly. The chances of Joe Nathan blowing a three-run lead in the eighth were remote and Mariano could have thus gotten the save in the ninth, instead of will now be the most memorable hold in the history of relief pitching. But I get it too. Even if things happened and Leyland got Mariano up quick, there would not have been this kind of moment. Fair enough.

FOX's Ken Rosenthal gives Leyland's side of things here and I buy it. As time goes on, it will be all about the moment and not whether it was the eighth or ninth. ESPN's Jayson Stark is a little more in my camp, admitting a hold for Rivera was "frankly, kind of weird."

Did you miss it? Check it out below:

While you slept: A-Rod turned down rehab in Buffalo, Giants' Lincecum tosses no-hitter

By Mike Harrington

Two big items this morning as we head into the final day prior to the All-Star break for both MLB and Triple-A:

---Remember when I wrote last Sunday that Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were not coming to Buffalo this weekend on rehab with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders? Well, it turned out I was right -- but only barely. 

Jeter left Scranton late Wednesday, played Thursday for the Yankees but injured his quad and his now trying to stay off the DL again. A-Rod, meanwhile, apparently was told by the Yankees to be in Buffalo Saturday night but refused the assignment after citing pain in his legs. The New York Post initially reported on how A-Rod didn't show up for a Class A game Friday in Tampa after meeting with MLB investigators about Biogenesis. The Daily News said A-Rod may be working on a plea deal with MLB 

Asked about turning down the trip to Buffalo, A-Rod told reporters in Tampa, "This is news to me."

The Tampa Yankees tweeted last night that A-Rod will be in their lineup today, so don't look for him at Coca-Cola Field this afternoon. 

---The other big story came past 1 a.m., when Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum lived up to his nickname and threw a completely freaky no-hitter at Petco Park in San Diego. Lincecum struck out 13 and threw 148 pitches in the Giants' 9-0 win over the reeling Padres. 

Here's MLB.com's look at all 27 outs from the no-no.

From Buffalo across the Pacific, Wang still going global

By Mike Harrington

Look below for an image tweeted by the Bisons of the front page of today's China Times, featuring Chien-Ming Wang and Bisons pitching coach Bob Stanley (middle). Clearly, they're talking about the Buffalo debut today of Wang, the former Yankees ace throwing in the second game of the doubleheader against Syracuse.

And here's a (very rough) translation of the story. No idea what Uncle Google is doing giving us all these Aberdeen references. 

China times

Lots of extra extra innings

ScoreboardBy Mike Harrington

If it seems like a lot of long MLB days are turning into night lately, you're right.

For the third time in less than a week, a matinee went at least 18 innings. This time, it was the Yankees' 3-2 loss Thursday at Oakland that ended in the bottom of the 18th after 5 hours and 35 minutes. Last Saturday while I was in Scranton with the Bisons, we were following the Mets' 20-inning loss to the Marlins and the Blue Jays' 18-inning win over the Rangers.

So how rare is all this?

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's just the fourth time in history there has been three 18+-inning games in a month and it's never happened in a week. The previous three times were June 1967, August 1972 and May 1973.

More from Elias on A's-Yankees:

Continue reading "Lots of extra extra innings" »

Bisons make return to Scranton

SWB pic 1
SWB pic II

By Mike Harrington

MOOSIC, Pa. -- The Bisons are back at PNC Field tonight for the first time since Sept. 5, 2011 but it's not the same place they made regular visits to during their stints in both the Triple-A Alliance and the International League.

The home of the newly-christened Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders was completely reconstructed during the last year (Remember, the then-SWB Yankees played the whole year on the road!) and it's quite an improvement for both specators and players. There's a 360-degree open concourse, grass berm in the outfield, party areas, HD video boards and a club level complete with buffet restaurant.

The huge concrete cavern of an upper deck is gone. The place seats about 7,200 with room for another couple thousand in the outfield. It's intimate and scenic, on the base of Montage Mountain. It's about a 4-hour drive from Buffalo and worth the trip. Be sure to look for a big look at the park next week in The News.

Continue reading "Bisons make return to Scranton" »

Home away from home for Herd against Yankees

IMG_0393Welcome to our weekend of bizarro baseball.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees took batting practice first. They're listed on the bottom of the scoreboard and the Bisons are on top of the lineup card (left, click for bigger view).

Things are going to be upside down at Coca-Cola Field the next four games as the Bisons play "road" games against Scranton. So among other things, as I wrote in this morning's story, the Herd could be walkoff losers in their own park because of Scranton's stadium reconstruction that's forcing them to play the entire season on the road.

Be sure to see Friday's paper for a more in-depth look at the Scranton situation, including some comments I got from manager Dave Miley prior to batting practice today.

As for tonight's game, Mets mega prospect Matt Harvey is on the mound for Buffalo trying to improve upon his 4-1 record. Harvey is 2-0, 3.68 in four May starts, striking out 25 and walking 10 in 22 innings. Here are tonight's lineups (remember, Bisons batting first):

Buffalo
Corey Wimberly, cf
Fred Lewis, lf
Josh Satin, 1b
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Matt Tuiasosopo, 3b
Jordany Valdespin, 2b
Lucas May, c
Dustin Martin, rf
Omar Quintanilla,  ss
---
Matt Harvey, p

Scranton/WB 
Kevin Russo, cf
Matt Antonelli,  2b
Steve Pearce, 1b
Jack Cust,  dh
Ronnier Mustelier, lf
Brandon Laird,  3b
Francisco Cervelli, c
Cole Garner, rf
Ramiro Pena,  ss
---
Adam Warren, p

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Mariano might call it a career after this year

The big news out of the first day of Yankees spring training today in Tampa: Closer Mariano Rivera might be entering his last season. Rivera played coy with reporters at the Yankees' complex even though he has a contract for 2013 as well.

"I know now," Rivera said of his retirement date. "I just don't want to tell you. I know now. I will let you guys know when I think I should tell you."

Rivera is very close with his family in his native Panama and it has become harder and harder for the 42-year-old to be away and go through the grind of a long season, even if last year's 1.91 ERA and 44 saves belie that point. 

Read more on the Rivera story from MLB.com,  which points out that Jorge Posada said at his retirement ceremony that he thinks 2012 will be it for Rivera.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Yankees sign Ibanez for DH, pass over Damon

The Yankees made it official this morning, signing veteran Raul Ibanez to a one-year,  $1.1 million deal to largely serve as their left-handed DH. Ibanez hit .245 for the Phillies last season with 20 homers and 84 RBIs but was at .256-16-60 against right-handed pitchers with a .440 slugging percentage and .747 slugging percentage that was 162 points higher than it was against lefties.

The Yankees waited to free up some money by trading A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh and then moved on their DH slot, which will often be filled against lefties by Alex Rodriguez and even Derek Jeter. They kicked the tires on Hideki Matsui and Damon openly campaigned for the job, telling CBSSports.com that he's surprised neither the Yankees nor the Rays (his team last year) have brought him in. The Yankees apparently think Ibanez can do a little more defensively, according to ESPN.com.

Ibanez had a great year for the Phillies in 2009, when they lost the World Series to the Yankees, as he hit .272 with 34 homers and 93 RBIs. He had been a 100-RBI man the previous three years in Seattle and has 252 home runs in his career. But he turns 40 on June 2 so we'll see how much is left in his tank after his numbers took a dip last year.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Around the horn: La Russa, CC and Manto

I'm covering the Sabres-Flyers game tonight in a one-day respite from my annual post-World Series vacation (which also means continued withdrawal from my daily fix of St. Louis toasted ravioli). So while I'm back on the job today, I figured I'd chime in on some of the big news of recent days.

Headline: Tony La Russa retires

Reaction: They sure suckered us all. The feeling at the Series was that La Russa was coming back. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak did a group interview prior to Game Five in Texas and was asked about La Russa's potential return. Here was the answer:

"You know, as far as handicapping that, I think I'm not going to go down that path, but obviously having a manager in place and that staff in place, that would be probably something that we need to do right away, because obviously it's a very difficult task if we were to have to replace Tony. So at this point, hopeful that we can wrap that up rather quickly. And right now as far as what's going to happen, every time he and I start to sit down and talk about it, we always realize and we sort of pinch ourselves that here we are in the World Series or having success in the postseason. So we just really haven't stopped to focus on it at this time."

Lies, lies, lies. La Russa revealed during his farewell press conference and again on his fascinating interview with Bob Costas Tuesday night on MLB Network that he and the Cardinals had decided he was done during the summer. They did a fabulous game of possum with all of us. Props to them.

Headline: Yankees re-sign CC and Cashman

Reaction: Brian Cashman reeled in the big fish first and then quickly got his own deal done. There's no way the Yankees would be contending next year without CC Sabathia, who wasn't going anywhere unless his hometown A's or Giants somehow found an extra $100 million in a Dixie cup. A one-year, $25 million extension kept CC from exercising his opt-out clause. Now the Yankees need him to opt out of a few more meals starting in 2012. As for Cashman, he's now signed through 2015. He started as GM in 1998. Remember when George Steinbrenner seemingly had a GM a year? Pretty amazing.

White Sox sign Manto as hitting coach

Reaction: About time somebody gave another shot to Manto, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Famer and Bisons legend who turned a journeyman like Freddy Sanchez into a batting champion when he was with the Pirates. Manto has been the Sox minor-league coordinator for four years and probably should have had this job a year or two earlier as Greg Walker continued to accomplish nothing in Chicago (see Rios, Alex and Dunn, Adam). Batting practice during those White Sox-Blue Jays games should be hysterical with Manto and Torey Lovullo (Toronto's first base coach) yammering back and forth.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Yanks in trouble, Phils hit surprising bump

Quick hits on the division series:

---Remember when I said that Game One suspension hurt the Tigers? Never mind. The Tigers survived the Bronx downpours for a huge 5-3 win in Game Two. And ponder this one: If Justin Verlander beats CC Sabathia tonight at 8:30 -- which I think he will do -- the Yankees' season will rest of the shabby, erratic arm of A.J. Burnett. Yeesh. Advantage, Tigers.

---Seemed like we should have just been able to cue up that Phillies-Brewers NLCS. The Diamondbacks and Cardinals have been outclassed. At least that's what I was thinking when the Phillies had a 4-0 lead last night and were heading to a 2-0 series lead of their own. And then Cliff Lee blew the lead and the Cardinals came back to win, 5-4. I still think the Phillies win the series but it's a lot dicier now with the next two in St. Loo.

---No clue about the Rays and Rangers. Texas' 8-6 win Saturday broke the six-game losing streak home teams had in the division series between these clubs the last two years in the ALDS. Let's see what happens in today's key swing game with the series at 1-1.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Around the horn: Yankees in charge, Bisons' MLB connections

Mother Nature has really spun the American League division series in the Bronx in favor of the Yankees. The rain poured down Friday suspending the game and now Justin Verlander will only pitch Game Three. A whole different scenario than having him pitch Games One and Five.

I hate the suspended games rule in this situation for the postseason. It should only apply to games that are already official, which was the case in Game Five of the 2008 World Series in Philadelphia. In the case of Game One, they should have just started over. 

As it was, they finished Saturday night and as the Daily News puts it, "Here's to you, Mr. Robinson". And the Yankees certainly have rookie Ivan Nova to thank. What a job by a guy who hasn't lost since June.

The Bisons, it should be noted, dealt poorly with the two rookie mound studs of the postseason thus far during their season.

Nova went 7 2/3 innings and fanned 10 in a 6-2 win over Buffalo July 7 in Scranton. Nova gave up a two-run homer to Fernando Martinez in the first inning and wasn't touched after that. Tampa Bay's Matt Moore, the Game One winner Friday at Texas, threw six shutout innings of two-hit ball and also fanned 10 for Durham Aug. 12 at Coca-Cola Field. He left with a 2-0 lead but got a no-decision as the Bisons rallied to win,3 -2.

Courtesy of Bisons PR director Brad Bisbing, here's the list of former Herd men in the MLB postseason:

Yankees: Freddy Garcia, CC Sabathia (rehab only)
Tigers: Jhonny Peralta, Victor Martinez, Omir Santos
Rays: Kelly Shoppach
Rangers: Mike Adams
Phillies: Cliff Lee, Ben Francisco, Wilson Valdez
Cardinals: Jake Westbrook
Brewers: None
Diamondbacks: John McDonald 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees to play six "home" games in Buffalo in 2012

If you're a fan of Yankees prospects in Western New York, there is going to be no shortage of opportunities for you see the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club in 2012. The Baby Yankees are barnstorming next season while a $40 million renovation of PNC Field is completed, and announced a six-city schedule of "home sites" for the 72 home games on their schedule Friday afternoon.

The biggest news in the arrangement is that six Scranton home games against the Bisons will be played in Coca-Cola Field, with the Bisons batting first as the visiting team and the Yankees batting as the home team. Those games will be played May 24-27 and Aug. 20-21.

Buffalo's other two road games against Scranton (July 7-8) will be played at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, with the Herd again batting as the visitors.

The big news announced Friday was that Scranton will play 37 home games at Frontier Field in Rochester and seven at tiny Dwyer Stadium in Batavia (April 20-23 against Norfolk, May 5-6 against Pawtucket and June 12 against Louisville).

In addition to the six games in Buffalo, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will also play 10 "home" games in Syracuse, eight in Lehigh Valley, and four in Pawtucket.

The schedule adjustments mean the Bisons will actually play 78 games downtown next season, a year that will also see them host the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 11. The additional Scranton games mean Buffalo will be home for  16 straight games (May 15-31) and for 17 games in a 19-game stretch from Aug. 10-28.

Scranton had been hoping to play its entire home schedule at one site and had settled on Newark, N.J., but the New York Mets blocked that move last week, citing territorial rights. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

The postseason begins: Make your picks

While the Red Sox are going through the process of not renewing Terry Francona's contract today (e.g. he's getting fired), the real focus of the baseball world is the start of the postseason. The American League division series opens on two fronts with the Rays and Rangers meeting in Texas and the Yankees and Tigers meeting in the Bronx. That's Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia and that's must-see TV.

Right from the top, I'll put this out there: I got the Tigers and the Phillies in the World Series and I'm taking the Phillies in six. Sorry, Yankees fans. If Sabathia doesn't win tonight, I think it's possible the Tigers sweep the Bombers in three. And wouldn't that make for an interesting offseason. Remember, all division series games are on TBS.

So here's some quick analysis off the cuff. Hey, I gotta do Sunday's Inside Baseball column on the collapse of the Sox and Braves and I'm still working hockey previews too. Some multi-tasking. I give you some polls at the bottom too. Be sure and vote!

Tigers vs. Yankees -- I know all about the Bombers' offense but you have to like the Tigers' combination of Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer. You have to love closer Jose Valverde. Miguel Cabrera should get plenty of MVP looks. As for the Yankees, can you really count on Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia in this spot? Seriously? And does A-Rod show up in this series or bat eighth like he did in when he was humiliated in Game Four in Detroit in 2006. Tigers in four. 

Rays vs. Rangers -- I'm tempted, very/very tempted, to pick the Rays to go to the World Series. Maybe I should. Now that they're actually in the postseason, they have the best starting pitching in the AL. I think they get through this series and avenge last year's division series loss but you wonder how much energy they have left after that crazy September. Rays in five.

Cardinals vs. Phillies -- I don't think a lot of analysis is needed. The Phillies' losing streak near the end of the season was rooted in injuries and boredom after clinching the division title. They're ready. Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Oswalt with Worley in the bullpen. Do they need a bullpen? This is one of Tony LaRussa's better managing jobs but this is a case of thanks for playing and please drive home safely. Phillies in three.

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers -- Who had this matchup in March? Thought so.  In Kirk Gibson and Ron Roenicke, you have your two main candidates for NL manager of the year. Think the Yankees wish 20-game winner Ian Kennedy had found his game when he was with them until waiting to getting to Arizona?  The Dbacks are a great story but the Brewers have the motivation of Prince Fielder's last season. They have an MVP in Ryan Braun, a great rotation, a supreme closer in former Canisius College pitcher John Axford. I think Brewers-Phillies could be a fabulous NLCS. Can't wait. Brewers in four.

Now you vote.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Welcome to Wildcard Wednesday

It all comes down to this on the final day of the regular season: The Rays and choking Red Sox are both 90-71 in the AL, the Cardinals and choking Braves are both 89-72 in the NL. Will we decide the wildcards tonight or get one-game playoffs Thursday in Tampa Bay and St. Louis?

The schedule remains the same as the last two days -- Tampa hosting the Yankees and Boston at Baltimore, while the Braves host the Phillies and the Cardinals are in Houston. All night games. Have your remotes ready to be clicking between YES, ESPN and the MLB Network.

The Red Sox are 7-19 in September with a team ERA of 5.90. Once-impenetrable reliever Daniel Bard is 0-4, 11.90 and not trustworthy. Look at the starters' ERAs: Bedard and Wakefield, 5.25; Beckett 5.48, Lester 5.96, Lackey 9.13. The Rays have pulled even by going 16-10 despite a .237 team batting average in September. But that 3.50 team ERA sure helps.

The Braves, meanwhile, have gone 9-17 and hit just .235. Their team ERA of 4.25 isn't ghastly, especially when you consider Derek Lowe fell to 0-5, 8.75 in September when he was booed off the mound last night. The Cardinals are 17-8, batting .293 and have a 3.25 ERA.

See SABRhounds, I don't need a lot of made-up acronym stats to tell me why these races have changed this month. 

How is this going to end up? Take the polls.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

With Newark out, still no plan for Scranton/WB Yankees' home in 2012

We pause from the daily death watch for the Red Sox -- who look just about cooked after Josh Beckett couldn't beat the Orioles last night -- with this bizarre update on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

The Bisons' IL North rival, you may recall, announced last month they were likely going to barnstorm or at least find one predominant home in 2012 because PNC Field in Moosic, Pa., is being bulldozed and getting a $40 million renovation. The schedules have already been announced but no word where the team would play.

You'd think this would have all been arranged, rather than let the Baby Yankees have the league waiting. An announcement was supposed to come at last week's league meeting in Albuquerque but one never did. How come?

Turns out Newark Star-Ledger columnist Jerry Izenberg, a venerable veteran of New York City sports, uncovered a plan to have Scranton move to Newark for 2012 as a sort of reprisal of the famous Newark Bears teams the Yankees fielded there from  1926-1949. But according to Izenberg, the Mets balked, fearing a Yankees Triple-A team in Jersey would hurt them in Queens.

Negotiations between the teams have broken down and it appears the Scranton franchise is back to square one. Maybe the Mets have valid reasons and maybe they don't but that's really irrelevant. I can't believe the Scranton franchise and the International League have let this fiasco go on this way. 

Somebody better make a decision here. It's almost October.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Wacky AL race: Yankees clinch East, Red Sox lose again but gain ground as Rays lose two

YanksThat was one wacky Wednesday in the AL East.

The division race is over as the Yankees got the combination they needed to clinch -- a sweep of the Rays in a day-night doubleheader coupled with yet another Red Sox loss to the Orioles. The Yankees took care of business in the Bronx with a pair of 4-2 wins, using seven relievers to piece together the first game and getting a two-run pinch single in the eighth from beleaguered veteran Jorge Posada to win the nightcap.

Good friend of the blog Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post surveyed the champagney scene in the postgame clubhouse. This has been quite a ride for the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez says Joe Girardi should be manager of the year.  Pretty good point, although I would imagine Jim Leyland and Joe Maddon are going to get a ton of votes too.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, fell to a stunning 5-16 in September with yet another loss to the Orioles, a 6-4 defeat in their home finale at Fenway. But they somehow went from a two-game lead in the wild card race to 2 1/2 games. The Rays dropped a half with their double loss while the Angels pulled into position at 2 1/2 back with their second straight win in Toronto. Not even a Josh Beckett start or a 4-1 lead could save the Sox, who are in desperation mode to save their season from going down the drain.

“I’ve been here nine years. We’ve never collapsed that bad," said David Ortiz. “Trust me, we’ve been through some tough times. But this is bad. No matter what we do, things are going to be bad. Right now it’s depressing."

The Yankees' magic number to clinch homefield throughout the playoffs is two. The Rays and Yankees meet again tonight, and so do the Angels and Blue Jays. That will leave the wild-card contenders with six games left starting Friday, all played in a pair of three-game series. The remaining sets look like this:

Red Sox: At Yankees, at Orioles
Rays: vs. Blue Jays, vs. Yankees
Angels: vs. Athletics, vs. Rangers

 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

AP Photo: Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera celebrate another division title.

Facts on Mo's climb to the top of the saves charts

I saw Mariano Rivera get to the edge of a history-making save Saturday in Toronto and he went over the top today in the Bronx. The Yankees' closer pitched a perfect ninth inning in the Bombers' 6-4 win over Minnesota to earn his MLB-record 602nd save.

When it was over and Rivera had finished taking the congratulations of his teammates, they pushed him out to the mound and left him alone to take in the accolades from the roaring crowd. It was quite a scene. Reminded me of the Baltimore Orioles pushing Cal Ripken out of the dugout for his victory lap on that memorable night in 1995 when he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record.

The Yankees issued a 15-page pamphlet about Rivera for reporters covering their games in recent weeks. Some pretty funny notes:

---Rivera has 602 saves, and the next Yankee is Dave Righetti at 224. Rivera had 230 saves at old Yankee Stadium and today was his 60th at the new one. Next on his list is Camden Yards at 38.

---He has 312 on the road and 290 at home. His ERA in those 602 appearances is a stunning 0.66 and opponents are batting .161 against him.

---He has saves at 30 ballparks, including six that no longer exist.

---Today was his 446th save of exactly one inning. Only 11 have gone two innings. Two have been one pitch.

---At the time of his first save on May 17, 1996 vs. the then-California Angels,  gas cost $1.30 a gallon and a stamp was 32 cents, only 13 of the current 30 MLB stadiums were in use and only 29 of the current big leaguers were active. Derek Jeter had 48 career hits and Alex Rodriguez had 12 home runs.

No question he's going to be No. 1 for a long time. Francisco Cordero is second to Rivera on the active saves list and he has a mere 323.

"It's a testament to Mo's consistency," Mark Teixeira told a group of us scribes over the weekend in Toronto. "His ERA in the postseason (0.71), oh-my goodness. He deserves to be on the top of this list.

"I can't think of, in sports, a better guy to play one position. There's usually arguments. Like basketball. Jordan or LeBron. People say Gretzky but Sidney Crosby in 10 or 15 years might have an argument.  At this position with Mo, there is none."

Sure isn't.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

Yankees resting regulars but won't hold out Mo

TORONTO -- The Yankees and Blue Jays play their series finale today in the sunshine of the open-roofed Rogers Centre (it's on at 1 on YES if you want to channel surf from the action at One Bills Drive). And with no more off the days the rest of the season, and a makeup game in the Bronx against Minnesota tomorrow at 1,  Joe Girardi is giving lots of people some rest.

Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are not starting today. Robinson Cano is the DH. The infield has Eric Chavez at first, Eduardo Nunez at second, Ramiro Pena at short and A-Rod at third. What is this, Tampa in March?

The biggest question centers around Mariano Rivera. Would Girardi keep him out today to ensure he gets his record-breaking 602nd save at home since there are eight games in Yankee Stadium over the next seven days? It appears the answer is no.

If there's a save today, Girardi said before the game it's going to be Rivera's to get, just like it was yesterday when he tied Trevor Hoffman's MLB mark with No. 601. The Yankees are in charge in the AL East but the lead over Boston is only 4 1/2 games with 12 to play. That's no time to be messing around in a close game.

Freddy Garcia (11-7) pitches for the Yankees against Toronto's Brandon Morrow (9-1). So the Yankees lineup today looks like this:

Gardner, cf
Nunez, 2b
Cano, dh
A-Rod, 3b
Swisher, rf
Chavez, 1b
Martin,  c
Dickerson, lf
Pena, ss

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Mariano on 601: 'It's a great number'

MoTORONTO -- The celebration was relatively muted today in the Rogers Centre after Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning in the Yankees' 7-6 win over the Blue Jays to tie Trevor Hoffman's all-time record with 601 career saves.

There was a big celebration Tuesday in Seattle for No. 600 and there will be a big one for No. 602 when Rivera breaks it,  be it here Sunday or if it happens when the Yankees return home.

"Don't get me wrong, [601] is a great number but you have to hit 601 to get 602," Rivera said. "It's a great number but the most important thing is we won the game. We were down 6-1 and came back, pitched good after that."

"By being a Yankees as a player, manager and coach, you get to see a lot of great accomplishments," said manager Joe Girardi. "This is another one. You feel fortunate. ... What can you say about Mo? 602 is the big one because it just puts the final stamp on it that he's the greatest closer of all time.

"I don't think in this room we have any question. I don't want to take anything away from Trevor Hoffman but when you've been around Mo as long as I have, you've seen a lot of special things."

Click below to hear the audio of Rivera's meeting with reporters:


Mariano Rivera

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

AP Photo: Catcher Russell Martin congratulates Rivera on No. 601.

Bulletin: Mariano gets No. 601 in Yankees win

TORONTO -- Legendary New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has tied the all-time record with his 601st career save today, pitching a perfect ninth inning to wrap up a 7-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Rogers Centre.

Rivera got Colby Rasmus to take a called third strike and got Brett Lawrie on a broken-bat grounder to first. With the Yankees fans in the crowd of 39,288 urging him on, Rivera got Eric Thames on a lazy fly ball for his 42nd save of the season and 13th in a row.

The Yankees trailed through five innings, 6-1, and were largely a trainwreck in the first half of the game. Bartolo Colon had very little in his four innings and light-hitting Toronto leadoff man Mike McCoy had three RBIs.

The New York offense failed to get a man in from third base five times -- five times! -- and Robinson Cano ran into a double play to end the fourth when he passed Mark Teixeira at third base. Cano, running head down from second, either thought Nick Swisher's liner to Corey Rasmus in center was either the third out or was dropping in. When Rasmus made the backhand catch, Teixeira retreated to third to tag up but Cano blew right by him.

The Yankees finally got it together in the sixth with four runs -- three on a first-pitch laser over the left-field wall by Alex Rodriguez, his first home run since Sept. 4.

They took the lead in the seventh on Curtis Granderson's 40th homer of the season, a two-run shot to dead-center off Carlos Villanueva. That was the at-bat of the game, as Granderson fouled off seven straight 2-2 pitches before finally connecting.

The New York bullpen set a remarkable red carpet for Rivera. Scott Proctor, Aaron Laffey, Hector Noesi and Rafael Soriano threw four hitless innings. In fact, they retired the final 11 in that stretch. Proctor gave up a leadoff walk to Jose Bautista in the fifth, but he was quickly erased on Adam Lind's double-play grounder and the Blue Jays never had another baserunner.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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