The Yankees had Mariano Rivera on the mound with a one-run lead, three outs away from capping a wildly successful road trip that would put the Yankees back in first place in the American League East.
Had Rivera gotten those three outs, all we’d be talking about this morning would be a gritty series at Fenway and a Yankees team playing incredibly well for a week and a half. Without those three outs, we’re left with this.
“I don’t call it disappointment or frustration, it just happens,” Rivera said. “That’s baseball. We just have to continue playing the baseball we’ve been playing. We’ve been doing great. Yeah, we lost the series, but we’re going home and we’ll play our ball.”
There was something stunning in the finality of it all. Marco Scutaro doubled and scored. Then David Ortiz doubled, the Yankees setup the double play, and Josh Reddick lined a first-pitch curveball into the left-field corner. It was past midnight, and it was over. In the last few minutes of Sunday night, the Yankees were winning a great game. In the early minutes of Monday morning, they were losing a heartbreaker.
Phil Hughes said he had no problem getting loose. In fact, he was ready for it. He started throwing his bullpen — in preparation for Tuesday’s start — as soon as Rivera came into the game. When the Red Sox tied it, he stopped throwing and treated it as a warmup because he figured he would be the next guy in the game. Sure enough, Girardi went to his starter, and Hughes threw all of 13 pitches, four of them intentional balls to Carl Crawford.
“I’ve got to do a better job in that situation,” Hughes said. “We pitched so well all game, and then I’ve got to give us as many innings as we need to score runs, and I just couldn’t do it.”
• Joe Girardi said he wasn’t ready to announce a rotation for the upcoming series, but Hughes won’t be available to start Tuesday or Wednesday. Ivan Nova said he’s gone through his regular between-starts routine, so he might be the best bet for Tuesday.
• Hughes said he could start Tuesday if necessary because he threw so few pitches. The fact Girardi didn’t rule him out for Thursday makes me wonder — just a guess — whether that will ultimately be his day. “I felt like I made some good progress in my last start, so if I have to wait around, it won’t be something that’s fun to deal with,” Hughes said. “But I don’t really make these calls.”
• Hughes on his pitch to Reddick: “It was sort of an 0-0 get-me-over curveball, and I kind of saw him think take — everything kind of slows down — and then it seemed like at the last second he was like (swing). He stayed back real well on it and shot it into left. I wasn’t exactly sure where Gardy was playing, but when I saw it tailing away from him, I pretty much figured that was it.”
• Hughes on the Ortiz double: “I haven’t even looked at it on video yet. I made a decent pitch on a 2-1, it was a changeup. I figured we could go in again, that’s usually where we like to go on him. I’m not sure if it was in or not, or in enough, and he put a good swing on it.”
• Rivera was asked whether his inning was a matter of bad pitches or good hitting. I assume his response was about the Scutaro double, but he could also have been talking about the Pedroia sac fly. “It wasn’t the pitch that I wanted it to be,” he said. “It was a little bit down and it should have been a little bit up. I can’t blame nothing but myself. I didn’t get it done.”
• On the sac bunt, Rivera said he didn’t think the Yankees had time to make the play because it wasn’t a force. “It’s a hard play,” he said. “If there’s two guys on base and it’s a force, it’s a little different. You have to tag the guy, so you have to be in position to be there. Even though he bunted it right back at me, I didn’t think we had a chance to get all the way back there and get him out.”
• Carl Crawford is 2-for-15 in his career against Hughes, but Hughes said he was fine with the decision to walk him. “In that situation you want a double play,” Hughes said. “The manager made the call, and that’s what you’ve got to live with. I was fine with it.”
• The Yankees are now 63-3 when leading after eight innings this season.
• Freddy Garcia walked his usual tightrope and regularly got out of trouble. He wasn’t great, but he gave the Yankees enough to get the win. He still hasn’t allowed a home run in 64.2 innings, the longest streak of his career.
• Random historic stat of the night: Eduardo Nunez, at 24 years and 53 days old, became the youngest Yankees third baseman to homer at Fenway Park since Clete Boyer did it at 23 years and 191 days old back in 1960. But you probably already knew that.
• Nunez hadn’t homered in 22 games. He’d gone 75 at-bats since his home run against the Mets.
• This was Brett Gardner’s first career game that included a home run and multiple stolen bases. He was 3-for-5 and is now 30-for-34 on stolen base attempts since May 20. He’s swiped 21 in a row without being caught, the longest such streak by a Yankee sing Derek Jeter stole 22 in a row from July 20, 2001 to June 2, 2002.
• Dave Robertson hasn’t allowed a run in 23.2 road innings this season. That’s a span of 23 outings.
• Rivera has blown 14 saves against the Red Sox, his most against any team (Baltimore and Anaheim are second with eight). This was his fifth blown save of the season, matching last year’s total.
• The Yankees were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Those numbers pretty much speak for themselves.
Associated Press photos