Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees is, quite simply, the greatest closer in the history of baseball. The Minnesota Twins got another taste of that again on Monday afternoon, and made themselves a part of history in the process.
Rivera collected the 602nd save of his Major League Baseball career on Monday against the Twins, breaking the tie for the mark that he was in with Trevor Hoffman, in the Yankees' 6-4 victory. The Twins found themselves in the Bronx on Monday to make up a game that had been rained out way back on April 6, interrupting what would have been a six-game road trip.
The Yankees got out to an early lead against Twins' starter Scott Diamond, as Curtis Granderson hit his 41st home run of the year in the bottom of the first, a two-run blast that put the Yankees on top, 2-0. An RBI single by Russell Martin in the bottom of the second extended the New York lead to 3-0, and the Yankees made it 5-0 in the bottom of the third thanks to an RBI triple by Robinson Cano and a run-scoring single by Nick Swisher.
The Twins attempted a comeback against A.J. Burnett in the top of the fourth, as Chris Parmelee led off the inning with a solo home run to cut the lead to 5-1. In the top of the fifth, Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run blast off of Burnett, scoring Trevor Plouffe ahead of him and cutting the deficit to 5-3. Later in the fifth, Luke Hughes grounded out with the bases loaded to make the score 5-4. The Twins failed to get more, however, as Burnett retired Joe Benson and Rene Rivera on strikes to end the threat.
That's all the closer the Twins would get, however, and the Yankees extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth, when Alex Rodriguez singled to bring home Granderson and make the lead 6-4 for New York. The score stayed that way until the top of the ninth, when Rivera entered the game. Rivera retired Plouffe on a ground out to second, Michael Cuddyer on a liner to right field, and concluded the game by setting Parmelee down on strikes. It was a fitting end, as out of Rivera's 602 career saves, this was the 208th to end with a 1-2-3 inning, and the 177th to end with a strikeout.
History aside, however, this continues a dismal September for the Twins. The loss was Minnesota's ninth in a row, and they have still registered just two wins in the entire month to this point. They have dropped 14 of their last 15, and are now in serious danger of losing 100 games. . .they need to win four of their final ten games to avoid that distinction, which would seem to be a tall order for a team that only has four victories since August 28th.
The Twins will return to Target Field starting on Tuesday for a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. First pitch on Tuesday night is scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time. The pitching matchup will see right-hander Liam Hendriks (0-2, 6.00 ERA) attempt to get his first major league win for the Twins, while the Mariners will counter with left-hander Jason Vargas (8-13, 4.38 ERA).