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Shocker in the Bronx

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If you know anything about the world of Major League Baseball, you know that yesterday the barely thinkable occurred: Mariano Rivera, the best closer in baseball history, (a) walked in a run and (b) allowed a Grand Slam. And, if you know about baseball, you know how unusual these events are.

Until the 7th inning the score was 3-1, Yanks. Sergio Mitre pitched 5+ innings, allowing one run on 4 hits, walking one, and striking out 3. Mitre left after nearly 80 pitches….

This is a problem in contemporary baseball: starting pitchers don’t stay in the game long enough to win it, the bullpen opens up and it’s hit or miss, frequently miss. I understand the reasons baseball has changed from the days when one pitcher hung in there til the bitter end, no matter how long it took–but for some of us, it’s a source of frustration. Especially on days like yesterday.(End Rant)

End of the 5th, Dave Robertson stepped in and pitched two uneventful innings. And then out of the bullpen trotted Joba Chamberlain. I like Joba, don’t get me wrong. I even felt badly for him when he didn’t make the starting rotation this season — but now I see why. In less than one inning, Chamberlain managed to load the bases, wrecking Mitre’s game, and leaving a mess for Mariano Rivera to clean up.

Only this time Rivera didn’t do it. This time, as I said, he walked in a run, and then Twins DH Jason Kubel hit that famous cutter for a Grand Slam. Let us take a moment here to congratulate Kubel, who’ll go down in history for what he did, and has no doubt been walking on air ever since. Hey, give credit where credit is due. Derek Jeter did, saying, “{Y}ou tip your caps to hitters, too, at times.”

Kubel’s slam brought the score to 6-3, Twins. The Yankees might have caught up in the 9th, maybe tied the game and gone into extra innings, but they were in a state of shock, and Twins pitcher Jon Rauch struck them out 1-2-3: Jeter, Gardner, Teixiera, end game.  As Bryan Hoch wrote, “The reality of Mariano Rivera coughing up a late-inning lead still serves as a jolt to the senses.”

Derek Jeter says he still doesn’t know how to console Rivera on these rare occasions. “I really wouldn’t even know what to say,” Jeter said. “…{w}e’re so used to seeing Mo get out of things that you’re shocked when he doesn’t.”

Note: According to The Captain’s Blog, “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.

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