NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera blew a save for the sixth time this season, more than he has blown in any season since 2001, when he blew 7. (His career high is 9 in 1997, his first season as a full-time closer).
But unlike several blown saves this season, in which he was hit hard or even surrendered home runs, this one was more like what we remember as a "typical Mariano Rivera blown save" -- a single, a stolen base (and a throwing error that put the tying run on third) followed by a broken-bat liner by Stephen Drew that flared outside the reach of Robinson Cano to score the tying run in the bottom of the ninth.
In fact, if it resembled any of Mariano's past failures, it was reminiscent of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, when Mo victimized himself with a hit batter, a throwing error and, of course, a broken-bat single.
That one, of course, ended a World Series and it remains to be seen if this one will lead to the end of a playoff drive. But as he was on that drizzly night in Phoenix, Mo was philosophical about the bad fortune that befell him and the Yankees in a most crucial game.
"It's part of the game," he said. "Sometimes they're going to hit the ball hard and it's right at someone, sometimes it's a broken bat and nobody can get to it."
But he admitted that to lose this way -- the Yankees battled back from a 7-2 deficit with six seventh-inning runs to take the lead, 8-7, only to lose, 9-8 in the 10th inning -- was especially hard to take.
"Yeah, it was a tough one," he said. "We had the opportunities, we just couldn't get it done. But this one's over. You can't do nothing about it now. We have to forget about it and come back strong."
Rivera, who had pitched in three straight games, including a four-out save Wednesday night, said fatigue had nothing to do with his performance tonight.
-- Alfonso Soriano, who managed to get himself picked off twice in the same inning, said he was just trying to be aggressive in the ninth inning when, after having survived one pickoff when Boston reliever Craig Breslow threw the ball away, allowing him to get safely to second, he then tried to go from second to third and was easily picked off.
Soriano admitted he was taking a gamble -- after Breslow threw to second once, Sori figured he wouldn't throw over again. "This is my game, to be aggressive," he said. "They came back and tied the game in the ninth and we try to steal the game back. With less than two outs I just want to get to third. But they made a very good play right there."
Joe Girardi was tight-lipped about the play after the game, but could be seen grimacing in the dugout and pressing his forehead against the padded railing for a good five seconds after Soriano got picked off. All he would say was this: "You can't get thrown out there," and that said it all.
"I kinda feel like I let our team down a little bit," he said. "I didn't do too well."
The Red Sox stole three bases on Romine, and one was especially damaging -- pinch runner Quintin Berry's ninth-inning steal on which Romine threw the ball into center field, allowing Berry to get to third. From there he scored the tying run on Drew's single off Rivera.
But Romine was also pivotal in the play on which the Red sox scored he game-winner when he failed to handle Ichiro Suzuki's throw home on Shane Victorino's single to right. Although the ball beat Ellsbury home, it handcuffed Romine and went through his legs, allowing the ninth run to score.
"It was a tough play," he said. "[Ichiro] threw a bullet, and if it was a little longer, I would have caught it on the fly, and if it was a little shorter I would have had an easier hop to handle. I knew [Ellsbury] was coming hard and I knew I had to hang onto it and block the plate. The throw kinda short-hopped me. I tried the best I could."
-- Girardi said Shawn Kelley, who has been so effective out of the bullpen against righties this season, was not available tonight with "a triceps issue," which is why he chose to bring in Joba Chamberlain for the 10th inning.
"They had 3 out of 4 righthanders coming up, so I went with Joba," Girardi said.
The manager said Kelley's tests came back "clean" -- "It's inflammation, and he's just a little sore" -- but he did not expect to have him back until sometime next week.
Girardi also said he never considered using the newest member of the Yankees bullpen, Phil Hughes.
"It's pretty tough to put him in a spot like that when he hasn't pitched in that situation," he said.