Take it from somebody who once covered a team that had Armando Benitez closing, Mariano Rivera is the best friend a beat writer ever had.
He comes in, the game is over. You can send your story back to the newspaper before he’s done pitching 99 times out of 100.
Tonight was that one time.
With two outs and nobody on, pinch hitter Mike Sweeney smacked a double to center. Then the great Ichiro Suzuki lined a pitch into the stands in right field. After getting picked off twice in the game, he was suddenly a hero.
“Mike Sweeney created an opportunity for us and I just went with the flow he created,” Ichiro said. “It was an at-bat where I went with my emotions.”
Mo had converted 36 straight saves and given up one run in his previous 33 innings.
“It just shows that he is human,” Joe Girardi said. “When it happens, you’re somewhat surprised. But no one is going to be perfect in this game.”
It was the first walk-off Mo has allowed since Marco Scutaro beat him in April of 2007 and only the fifth in Mo’s career. The others belong to Bill Selby (2002), Bill Mueller ( 2004) and Vernon Wells (2006).
Rivera was, as always, stoic in the face of disaster.
“Two pitches cost us the game,” he said. “That’s why I’m there. I’ve been there before and you know you those games are going to happen. You move on. You can’t change it. You come back tomorrow and play hard again.”
The Yankees lost a game off their lead in the East and allowed the Angels to creep within 5.5 games. The sudden disaster also overshadowed a strong performance by A.J. Burnett.
Nick Swisher shook as head as he walked out of the clubhouse. “That’s something you don’t see very often,” he said.