Mariano Rivera made his 1,072nd appearance tonight, passing Dennis Eckersley for the fourth-most ever. Remarkably, this was the first time in all those games, on all those nights pitching where the cushion was nothing or close to it, that Rivera had blown a save without recording an out.
Said Hiroki Kuroda: “He’s human after all.”
Rivera blows so few saves you can practically remember them all. Tonight marked his third blown save against the Mets, joining the Matt Franco game and Ronny Paulino game. Add Lucas Duda to the list. Duda drove in David Wright with the winning run after Daniel Murphy doubled to open the ninth.
Rivera was typically stoic afterward, saying this — or something like it — again and again: “It’s part of the game, man. I have to come back tomorrow strong.”
There’s no reason to believe he won’t. The 43-year old entered the night 18 for 18 in save opportunities this season. Neither the Wright nor Duda hits were hit hard, although Rivera did fail to back up on Brett Gardner’s throw home on Wright’s game-tying single.
“There’s no excuses,” said Rivera, taking the blame.
Joe Girardi pinned it on catcher Chris Stewart, who has suffered through a few defensive lapses the last two nights and went 0 for 3 against Matt Harvey with three strikeouts.
“It got under might glove, but I think it might have hit the bat or something and kicked a little further,” Stewart said. “But it got under me to begin with and I have to put my glove down and stop the ball and keep it in front. Bad play.”
“That ball’s got to be stopped,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line.”
• Girardi also disagreed with the suggestion of walking Wright — a heart-of-the-order of one — with first base open.
“You’re not going to put the winning run on,” he said. “We have a Hall of Fame closer on the mound, so no.”
• Rivera’s other two blown saves against the Mets: July 10, 1999 on Matt Franco’s RBI single; July 3, 2011 when Ronny Paulino’s RBI single sent the game to extra innings.
Rivera now has a 3.53 ERA against the Mets (14 ER in 35.2 IP). The only team to fare better is the Angels (3.65 ERA against).
• The ninth inning marred another brilliant night from Kuroda, who pitched seven scoreless and allowed just four singles, didn’t issue a walk and struck out seven. He struck out five of the last eight men he faced to drop his ERA to 2.39.
Kuroda tied Cleveland’s Justin Masterson and L.A.’s Clayton Kershaw by tossing his fourth scoreless outing of seven innings or more — the most in baseball. He has 10 such starts since joining the Yankees — again, the most in baseball.
Kuroda’s finest moment came in the sixth after Brett Gardner robbed Murphy of a game-tying extra-base hit. He threw a splitter to strikeout Wright and then picked Ruben Tejada off second.
“Same,” Girardi said of the dependable Kuroda. “Good split, good slider, good command of his fastball. He just really knows how to pitch.”
Surprisingly, Kuroda had been 0-4 with an 8.20 ERA in four career starts in Queens (one at Shea, three at Citi Field).
• Kuroda was up for his duel with Harvey, who finished the night allowing six singles and no walks and having struck out 10 in eight strong. The Mets have now scored 11 runs for their young ace in his last seven starts.
“He was impressive. He had command of four pitches, but our guys threw a pretty good game, too,” Girardi said. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t hold on to win.”
• Here’s more from Girardi:
• The Mets swept the Yankees for just the third time in Subway Series history. They also swept at Shea in 2004 and at Yankee Stadium in 2008.
The Yankees also lost three straight for the first time all season in their 51st game. It is the deepest into a year for them without a three-game skid since 1955 (58 games).
• Lyle Overbay now has nine go-ahead RBI this season. He’s tied with Travis Hafner for the team lead.
• Gardner is now 12 for his last 35 (.343). He had four strong at-bats (and two hits) against Harvey and drove deep outs to center and left in the first and eighth, respectively.
As for his larceny of Murphy…
“I don’t think he’s too happy with me right now,” Gardner said.
• More from Gardner:
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