"Now, what is this site about, how Joe Torre ruined pitchers' arms? Is that it?"
-Michael Kay, August 18, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rivera saves 500th, drives in run as Yanks sweep Mets

(Originally written for Baseball Digest)

Mariano Rivera entered Sunday night's game at Citi Field in search of one milestone.  When the game was over, he came away with two milestones: his 500th career save and his first career RBI.  Yes, I said RBI.

Rivera, who entered with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, drew a based loaded walk against Mets' closer Francisco Rodriguez in the top of the ninth inning.  The run gave the Yankees valuable insurance headed into the bottom of the frame.  Rivera wouldn't need it, however, as he was able to nail down the Yankees' 4-2 victory to sweep their first series at Citi Field.

Another story seemingly lost in all this (as Rebecca pointed out on Twitter) is that Chien-Ming Wang picked up his first win of 2009.  But how did we get here?

The Yankees got on the board early and often in the first inning against starter Livan HernandezDerek Jeter, playing in his first game of the series, led off with a double off the left field wall.  Nick Swisher then grounded to first, but Daniel Murphy threw to third in an attempt to get Jeter.  It turned out to be a mistake, as both runners were safe.  Mark Teixeira followed with a two-run double and Alex Rodriguez walked.  Robinson Cano was up next, and was bailed out by another Murphy miscue.  He grounded into a sure double play, but Murphy dropped the ball at first.  Jorge Posada hit a sacrifice fly to center to drive in the Yankees' third run.

Wang wasn't great, but he pitched a season-high 5 1/3 innings.  He allowed four hits, two earned runs and three walks while striking out three.  He gave up his runs in the fourth inning on a Fernando Martinez RBI double and a Luis Castillo RBI single.

Wang was relieved by Phil Coke and Phil Hughes in the sixth inning.  Hughes would also go on to pitch a scoreless seventh before being replaced by Brian Bruney in the eighth.  Bruney's control failed him, as only six of his 15 pitches went for strikes.  This caused Rivera to be brought in for a four-out save.  But that's where the fun began.

Posada reached on another botched pop up by the Mets with Rodriguez on the mound.  Eventually, the Yankees loaded the bases on walks, bringing up Rivera with the bases loaded and two outs.  He only swung at one pitch and had a full count before taking a pitch inside for the walk.

Rivera only gave up a two-out single in the ninth before inducing a grounder to second for the third and final out.  His 500th career save was his 18th of 2009 in 19 chances.

After a day off Monday, the Yankees will begin a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners at home.  Joba Chamberlain takes the ball in Game 1.


kongon said...

What made this all the more satisfying is that Mo really earned his 500th save in this game. He came in the 8th with two men on, and got out of a jam. Then he got his first(!) RBI to give himself enough of a cushion to finish off the 9th. No broken bats, tho.

He and the rest of the bullpen worked hard to ensure Wang got his first win, which makes the milestone doubly sweet.

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