For eight innings Wednesday night, the Yankees played an awful game of baseball. It was hard to watch, and it sounds like it was frustrating to play, but in the end, the Yankees had the best closer in baseball and that seemed to make the difference.
“Him and Pettitte, guys like that, I don’t think there’s (another) human on the planet that could get out of that jam like Mo,” Alex Rodriguez said.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the 10th — and with the big screen in Phoenix showing images of 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez — Rivera induced two popups before striking out Mark Reynolds to end it. Rivera had also pitched the ninth, and he went to the plate in the top of the 10th for only the fourth at-bat of his career.
“You have to show your character, be confident and make your pitches,” he said.
After a series of missed opportunities, Rodriguez tied the game with a sac fly in the ninth and Curtis Granderson gave the Yankees the lead a lead-off home run in the 10th. In the end, though, the night belonged to Rivera.
“Only he can get out of that,” Javier Vazquez said. “Believe it. We were talking about it. He’s like Iceman out there. It really is unbelievable. We have so much confidence in him.”
• Joe Girardi was unwilling to use Rivera in a tied game on the road earlier this season. The difference this time was that he was willing to let his closer pitch two innings for the first time all season. “Knowing that he hasn’t pitched in a few days and knowing that we have a day off tomorrow,” Girardi said. “We hadn’t used him in a few days, so I figured I’d try to get two innings out of him if I had to.”
• In the top of the 10th, Girardi had Ramiro Pena loosening like a pinch hitter and had Boone Logan getting warm in the bullpen, but both were decoys. There was never a thought of not leaving Rivera in for the 10th.
• That was Granderson’s second 10th-inning home run of the year. I’m sure you remember the first against Boston. “I’d rather finish up in the ninth inning if I can,” Granderson said.
• Granderson and Brett Gardner were the only Yankees with more than one hit. Granderson had three.
• Terrible base-running by the Yankees. Nick Swisher was picked off, Rodriguez was doubled off and Mark Teixeira was caught stealing third on what looked like a hit-and-run in the first inning. “Let’s just say there were some missed signs and leave it at that,” Girardi said.
• Girardi called the Yankees “fortunate” to win. Someone asked if a game like this left any time to address the early inning struggles — before Rodriguez’s sac fly, the Yankees had 19 base runners and had scored only four of them — “Those were addressed,” Girardi said. “They were addressed early too.”
• The Yankees also botched a play in the bottom of the first when they should have gotten two outs, settled for one, and the Diamondbacks took advantage for two runs. “We gave them two outs,” Girardi said. “And they tried to give us two outs.”
• It wasn’t all bad news: Joba Chamberlain was back in the upper-90s a few times, Dave Robertson threw a scoreless inning and Colin Curtis’s second major league hit drove in the tying run in the sixth.
• Teixeira has hit safely in 13 of his past 15 games, batting .304 in that stretch.
• Rivera had retired 24 consecutive hitters before allowing a single to Stephen Drew in the 10th. That’s a career-best streak for Mo.
Associated Press photos of Granderson after the home run and Rodriguez being doubled off at first.