Joe Girardi said there was no hesitation in using Mariano Rivera tonight, one day after the closer went two scoreless innings Friday. His reason was that Rivera needed just 23 pitches Friday and, to be fair, it was a relatively effortless outing. Still, Girardi seemed to get irritated when the topic came up several times during his postgame press conference.
“He only threw 23 pitches yesterday, it wasn’t like he threw 40 pitches in two innings. In that situation I wouldn’t have used him,” he said.
Asked a couple of more times about it, Girardi had enough.
“He didn’t throw a lot of pitches, I don’t know how many times I have to say it," he said. "He didn’t throw 50 pitches, he threw 23 pitches.”
Rivera said of the issue: “I felt great. Last night I threw 20-some pitches. I felt real good today. It’s not that, it’s that you go in there and walk the first guy and then anything can happen.”
The key to Rivera's third blown save of the season, in his eyes, was the leadoff walk he issued to Vladimir Guerrero. It was also the most upsetting part of it.
"You don’t want to go in there in situations like that and walk the leadoff guy," he said. "That’s unacceptable. That’s what bothers me the most.”
He said the pinch runner, Esteban German, caused him to rush and get “a little bit quicker to the plate.”
Nelson Cruz followed with a single and Ian Kinsler's double over the third base bag tied it. Later he hit Jeff Francoeur with the bases loaded to force in the winning run.
“It’s one of those games that bothers you," Rivera said. "The first guy is setting the tone and I walked the guy.”
For the Yankees, it was a second straight tough loss to the Rangers, a loss the dropped the Yankees' lead over the Rays to 1/2 game.
“We fought back today [after Friday] so we’ll fight again tomorrow," he said. "We’ll go out there, guys will play hard and we’ll do everything we can to win.”
*** Austin Kearns pinch hit for Brett Gardner, whose right wrist had been acting up recently, in the sixth inning. Girardi and Gardner both said it was lasting effects from when the outfielder got hit in the wrist in the Dodgers' series finale June 27 in L.A. The wrist has flared up now and then since then.
Girardi said he wasn’t planning to play Gardner against Cliff Lee anyway on Sunday and while Gardner said he doesn't think anything is seriously wrong, he anticipates getting an MRI done in Tampa on Monday just to make sure there’s nothing more severe.
“It’s just been getting a little worse every day and we don’t want to do anything to make it even worse,” he said.
*** The Yankees have left 32 on base through two games here.
"We've done a good job of getting runners on, we've struggled getting them in," Girardi said. "We've hit some balls well, we've hit some balls up to the base of the wall. Our at-bats have been good, we just haven't been getting them in."
That changed in the eighth when Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run double that gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead, one that just about everyone figured would be safe in the hands of Rivera, which is almost always the case.
"You don't see it happen too often with Mo," Girardi said. "That's why he's been so successful over his career and is arguably the greatest closer of all time, but it happened tonight."
And with that, the Yankees will try to avoid getting swept this afternoon as it will be Dustin Moseley (4-2, 4.83) taking on Cliff Lee (10-8, 3.37).