Mariano Rivera stole the show - and rightfully so - by tying the career saves record in Saturday’s 7-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Lost in the afterglow of Rivera’s historic feat were some fairly impressive achievements by the New York Yankees on Saturday. For example: Alex Rodriguez’s three-run homer in his first game back in over a week, a spirited comeback from a five-run deficit, and Curtis Granderson again proving why he deserves serious consideration for the American League MVP award. The sum of the parts resulted in the Yankees opening a 4 1/2-game lead over Boston entering Sunday’s series finale in Toronto.
TV: 1:07 p.m. ET, YES, RSN
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees RH Freddy Garcia (11-7, 3.55 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Brandon Morrow (9-11, 3.09 ERA).
Since coming off the disabled list, Garcia followed one strong start with a pair of ugly ones. He has been knocked around for 12 runs in 16 hits over 7 2/3 innings in his last two outings - yet somehow managed to avoid taking a loss. Prior to going on the disabled list, Garcia hadn’t allowed a homer in 10 starts, but he has been taken deep five times in his last three starts. He’s 7-7 with a 6.10 ERA lifetime against the Jays.
Morrow is in the midst of a major swoon that has seen him go 0-4 and yield 29 runs in his last five starts. He has won once since July 31 and was cuffed around in his last two starts, giving up 15 runs in 9 2/3 innings. He also has been rocked by the home run ball, serving up 10 in his last five outings. The once decent performance in that stretch was allowing three runs and six innings vs. New York.
ABOUT THE BLUE JAYS (76-75): Toronto appeared en route to a lopsided win after building a five-run lead and knocking out Yankees starter Bartolo Colon after four innings Saturday. That might have been the worst thing to happen to the Blue Jays, who failed to get another hit against five New York relievers. Colby Rasmus, in his second game back since coming off the disabled list, went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and scored twice. Mike McCoy had his first career three-RBI game, including a safety squeeze bunt and two-run double. Rookie Brett Lawrie had one hit but saw his average drop to .300 - the lowest it’s been since he was called up.
ABOUT THE YANKEES (91-59): After sitting out six games with a sprained thumb, Rodriguez announced his return to the lineup with a three-run homer. It was No. 629 for his career, putting him one behind Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth place on baseball’s career list. Granderson supplied the tying and go-ahead runs with his 40th blast of the season. He took over the AL RBI lead from teammate Robinson Cano with 113 and joined Toronto’s Jose Bautista (42) as the only players in the majors with 40 homers. Mark Teixeira halted a 3-for-28 slump with a pair of hits, including his first double in 16 games.
FINAL PITCH: The Yankees improved to a major league-best 40-11 in day games. New York righthander Phil Hughes will miss Monday’s scheduled start due to back spasms. A.J. Burnett will take his place.