It took the baseball equivalent of a Big Bang for the Twins to finally beat the Yankees in New York. Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth, the Twins rallied for five runs off Mariano Rivera, who gave up a bases loaded walk and a grand slam. It was only the fourth time in his long career that Rivera yielded each adverse event, and the first time he surrendered both in the same game.
The reason the Yankees were leading up until the eighth inning was because Sergio Mitre pitched one of his finest games in a Yankee uniform. In his five shutout innings, Mitre surrendered only one run on a homer to Justin Morneau. His strong pitching allowed the Yankees to build a 3-1 lead off Nick Blackburn, who scattered nine hits over seven innings. The biggest hit in the game for the Yankees was a two-out, two-run triple by Randy Winn in the second inning. The only other run was plated on a bloop single by Mark Teixeira in the fifth. The Yankees had an opportunity to tack on even more runs in that frame, but stranded runners on second and third with only one out.
Because Mitre was only able to go five innings, the bullpen was pressed into duty. The first man out of the pen was Dave Robertson, who turned in two scoreless innings despite working into and out of trouble in both the sixth and seventh innings. With that tenuous part of the ballgame successfully navigated, Girardi then turned the game over to Joba Chamberlain. Early tentativeness in the inning created a first and second jam (single to Span on three consecutive sliders and then a walk to Mauer) with only one out, but Chamberlain rebounded to strike out the dangerous Morneau and induce a soft liner to first by Cuddyer. The only problem was Mark Teixeira didn’t catch the ball. Instead, the ball dropped to his feet and Cuddyer reached safely when Chamberlain failed to cover the bag. Although not ruled an error, the play was one Teixeira makes routinely.
With the bases loaded, Joe Girardi summoned Rivera in the eighth inning, leading to the dramatic events that brought an end to the Twins 10 game losing streak at Yankee Stadium. It should be noted, however, that Rivera did have some help with his bases loaded walk to Thome. According to PitchFX data (see below), every single pitch but the first was in the strike zone. Thome got the benefit of the calls, however, and the rest was history, not to mention historic.
Even with all the stars aligned for their first victory in New York, the Twins still had to survive another mini-scare in the ninth inning. Singles by Winn and Ramiro Pena off closer Jon Rauch brought the tying run to the plate with no outs, but an awful at bat by Jeter seemed to stem the tide. After Jeter swung and missed on a ball in the dirt, Rauch bounced back to strike out Gardner and Teixeira to close out an improbable victory.
- The last grand slam surrendered by Mariano Rivera was to Bill Selby in a game against the Cleveland Indians on July 14, 2002. His last bases loaded walk was to Keith Ginter of the Oakland A’s on May 6, 2005.
- Before blowing the save in today’s game, Rivera had converted 51 consecutive chances at home, a record held with former Dodger closer Eric Gagne.
- For the second game this week, an opposing closer recorded a save against the Yankees by striking out the side.
- The Twins victory was their first at Yankee Stadium since July 4, 2007.