Ken Leighton 2 p.m., Feb. 22
Yankees shut down Padres
In a pitcher's duel, the Padres couldn't score and the Yankees could so everyone got to see Mariano Rivera
Tyson Ross was good – in fact, he was perfect into the fifth inning before allowing the first Yankees runner, on a base hit by Lyle Overbay. But Ivan Nova was ultimately better against the Padres, who fell to the Yankees 3-0 on Saturday in front of the second consecutive sellout crowd at Petco Park.
The only runs to score off of Ross came in the top of the seventh inning, after a bloop single by Alfonso Soriano fell in front of center fielder Alexi Amarista, who misplayed the ball by stepping back before running in on it. Curtis Granderson then homered into the Jack Deck in right field and the Yankees enjoyed a 2-0 lead.
Ross then walked consecutive batters with no one out, and manager Buddy Black yanked Ross and put Nick Vincent on the mound in relief. Vincent successfully dispatched the next three batters. Ross wound up with a career-high nine strikeouts, giving up the two runs on only three hits, while allowing three walks.
Meanwhile, Nova allowed only three hits and a walk while striking out eight in seven innings. “He was tough,” said Chase Headley of Nova. “I thought he did a really good job of commanding his fastball and obviously a really good breaking ball.”
Headley got two of the four hits that Nova surrendered. Buddy Black was complimentary of both starters when asked for a comparison between the two.
“They both threw very well,” Back said. “They both had two really good pitches the entire night. A fast ball being one of them for both, a little contrast in the secondary pitch – Nova had the slow big curve ball, and Tyson had the good, hard, tight slider.”
Tyson Ross also had another secondary pitch, a very effective changeup. “It’s coming along, I threw it more tonight than I have in the past,” Ross said. “I’m starting to get a little more comfortable with it, and moving forward that will be a pitch that can help me out.”
The Yankees scored an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning that was somewhat controversial. Granderson opened the frame with a single off of reliever Dale Thayer. Lyle Overbay then flew out to Amarista in center field, and the relay throw to first base seemed to nail Granderson before he could get back.
Second base umpire Ted Barrett called Granderson safe, first baseman Yonder Alonso took exception to the call, and then manager Buddy Black went out to argue the call. “Ted thought that Yonder came off the bag,” Black said when asked about what the explanation of the call was.
Replay from the monitors in the press box seemed to indicate otherwise. The instant social network reaction from both Padres fans and some sports media folks was that if MLB had an expanded instant replay, it would have made a difficult call easy to correct if it was wrong.
It wound up costing the Padres a run, when, with two outs instead of three, Granderson stole second base. Jayson Nix then singled Granderson home, and the Padres had to then face Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth inning down by three runs.
It was the first time that the saves leader had ever pitched in Petco Park, and he didn’t disappoint the crowd, who were mostly Yankees fans. It took Rivera only nine pitches to close the game and notch his 35th save of the season, adding to his all-time record which seems impossible for anyone to top, and there are still over fifty games left in the season.
As Rivera announced his retirement effective at the end of this year, his first Petco Park appearance might well also be his last. Rivera certainly won’t appear in Sunday’s finale at Petco unless the Yankees find themselves in a save situation, leading by three runs or less in the bottom of the ninth inning.
It’s a good guess that the Padres wouldn’t mind taking the rubber game of the series and gently wishing Mariano the best of luck on Sunday afternoon as he rides off into the sunset on one of those beach cruisers the Padres gave him on Friday night.
Carlos Quentin still didn’t appear on Saturday, and is still day-to-day. Should Carlos not improve and need some time on the disabled list, it will be interesting to see what move the Padres make as Jaff Decker – the obvious replacement for Quentin – is injured himself. Cameron Maybin is still getting reps and rehabbing in AAA with the Tucson club, no timetable is set for his return. Also without a timetable is an improving Kyle Blanks, who took some batting practice on Saturday.
Sunday is the final game of the three game series with the Yankees who won’t be in San Diego for a while afterwards. Game time is at 1:10 PM PDST, and is expected to be a sellout, so if you have tickets, again, get to Petco Park early. Newly acquired pitcher Ian Kennedy (3-8, 5.23) will start for the Padres and go up against the often unpredictable Phil Hughes (4-9, 4.58) for the Yankees. It’s on radio 1090 AM or televised on Fox Sports San Diego if you can’t come up with some tickets.