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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3

By Andrew Marchand



TORONTO -- It was all about fours. The New York Yankees came back with four in the eighth inning and the ageless Mariano Rivera notched the final four outs for his 44th save of the season, allowing the Yankees to snap their four-game losing streak in a 4-3 win.

What it means: The Yankees keep their playoffs hopes alive for another day. If they had lost, they would not have been close to being mathematically eliminated, but losing two straight to a last-place team and five in a row overall would have been pretty deflating. Now, they maintain a glimmer of optimism.

Ninth inning: Trying to finish off the save in the ninth, Rivera allowed singles to Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus. Pinch hitter Munenori Kawasaki tried to sacrifice bunt on the turf and instead gave Lyle Overbay an easy play to third. Rivera finished off the Jays by forcing Ryan Goins to ground out and then striking out J.P. Arencibia.

Flat Yankees? For the first seven innings that appeared to be the story again. The Yankees could not touch J.A. Happ. Happ, who entered with a 5.15 ERA, not only held the Yankees scoreless through 21 outs, he let only two Yankees reach scoring position.

Sign of life: In the eighth, Brendan Ryan chased Happ. Following Ryan's double to lead off the inning, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons pulled Happ. The Yankees came back against the Jays' bullpen. Curtis Granderson singled off Aaron Loup, which brought Alex Rodriguez to the plate, representing the tying run.

A-Rod struck out swinging against righty Steve Delabar.

Next, Robinson Cano knocked an RBI single, followed by an RBI double by Alfonso Soriano. Vernon Wells -- who is not beloved by his former fans -- nailed a two-run double to give the Yankees the lead, 4-3.

Four-out save: In the eighth, manager Joe Girardi turned to Rivera to bring it home. After David Robertson gave up a two-out single to Rajai Davis, a href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/30644/brett-lawrie">Brett Lawrie stepped in. On the first pitch, a ball, Davis stole second. In the middle of the at-bat, out popped Girardi from the dugout to bring in Rivera. It was the fourth time in the past two weeks Girardi has asked Rivera to work overtime.

Rivera came through, forcing Lawrie to ground out to second.

Captian Hook: Phil Hughes pitched three scoreless innings, then gave up a mammoth two-run homer in the fourth. Girardi pulled him.

The manager, who apparently feels the same about Hughes as the fan base, got Hughes after just 3 1/3 innings and 56 pitches. Girardi, who took Hughes out in his previous start after just three innings, had seen enough when Lawrie led off the fourth with a double. After an out, Colby Rasmus hit a long, two-run homer to right. Rasmus went deep in the fourth off Andy Pettitte on Tuesday.

David Huff entered and, after an out, promptly allowed Ryan Goins' first homer.

It actually worked well: Those would be the only three runs Hughes/Huff allowed in their seven innings. Last time out, Hughes/Huff gave up two runs in six innings. Not bad.

Run, Robbie, run: Cano grounded out to first in the sixth and again failed to run hard to first. On the YES broadcast, announcer Michael Kay said, "We're talking about a flat team, and a guy who's the star of your team runs three steps out of the box and stops." (Hat tip to Newsday's Neil Best.)

Where they stand: Here are the latest wild-card standings.

WHAT'S NEXT: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Todd Redmond in the rubber game on Thursday. First pitch, 7:07 p.m. ET.