NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – The Yankees won on Thursday. So what’s the hubbub?
A ninth inning, first-pitch, three-run homer off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, that’s what.
For the third straight game, Mr. Automatic faltered — and it has some Bronx faithful on edge.
“It happens. It always happens,” Rivera said. “We always have this conversation. (It’s been) sixteen, seventeen years.”
Russell Branyan’s long ball was not enough to wipe out the lead, though, and the Yankees beat the Angels 6-5, giving Rivera his 30th save for the 14th season.
“This was a game that had to leave a ripe residue of concern, if not outright worry, no matter if anybody will admit it,” wrote Wayne Coffey of the New York Daily News. “For the third straight time, (Mariano) came in and looked eminently hittable, even fragile.”
A headline on the New York Times’ website read: “The Struggles of Rivera Cast a Pall Over a Win.”
But not everyone is buying into the Mariano doomsday scenario.
“Eventually, Rivera will cease to be an above-average closer,” wrote Newsday’s Ken Davidoff. “However, are you willing to bet that juncture is upon us just because Rivera has logged three straight subpar outings?”
After earning 29 saves this season with relative ease in his 15th year of shutting down teams with a buzz-saw cut fastball, Rivera gave up a run in a third straight appearance for the first time since last September against Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Boston.
“As much as we want to think that he’s about as close to the perfect closer as we have seen, he’s not perfect,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The blip began on Sunday in Boston, when he blew his fourth save opportunity this season. On Tuesday, he gave up a two-run drive to Bobby Abreu in a tie game, his first homer allowed at Yankee Stadium this season.
“The saves and the stuff is OK but it won’t make me or break me,” Rivera said. “Games like this get me upset because I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
There’s nothing wrong, Rivera said. He’s just missing with one pitch.
“It’s not that I’ve been missing and missing and missing and missing,” he said. “Just one pitch, you get on one of those streaks. It happens.”
Is there real concern for Mo, or is he just going through a routine slump? Be heard in the comments below…
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