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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Yankees save their season -- 'for now'

By Andrew Marchand

TORONTO -- The New York Yankees hadn't scored a run in 16 innings. They had lost four games in a row. Their manager had already said that every game from here on out was "darn close" to a must-win.

Mariano Rivera, J.R. Murphy
Another day, another four-out save for the 43-year-old Mariano Rivera.
In the eighth inning on Wednesday, they finally scored a run -- four of them, in fact. The biggest two bounded off the bat of Vernon Wells and then Mariano Rivera worked a four-out save that saved their season.

"For now," Wells said truthfully and with a smile after his two-run eighth-inning double propelled the Yankees to a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays in the ballpark he used to call home.

Yup, it was just one win. One win that may not change that much in the wild-card race in the long run. The Yankees picked up a game and are now just 2 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers for the second wild card. Cleveland and Baltimore are also in front of them, which is another issue.

Still, it was much needed. Entering Wednesday, with 11 games to go, the Yankees probably needed to go at least 10-1 to give themselves a real shot at a wild card. Now, it is 9-1.

There was a sense of relief in the postgame clubhouse.

"Thank God we scored four runs in the eighth and got the win," said Alfonso Soriano, who mentioned the team lacked energy a night earlier.

Now, the Yankees feel a little better about themselves, that they may have the moxie to continue to overachieve.

"I told you this team never quits," Joe Girardi said.

Girardi managed like it was a playoff game with quick hooks all around. Phil Hughes was out after 3 1/3 and one bad pitch to Colby Rasmus that resulted in a two-run homer in the fourth. In the eighth, David Robertson, the closer-in-waiting, recorded two outs before a single by Rajai Davis. Davis stole second on a pitchout and Girardi turned to the greatest closer of all time. Why?

"I don't think there is any argument who the greatest pitcher of all time is and that is what I went with," Girardi said simply.

It was the fourth time in the past two weeks Girardi has asked the 43-year-old Rivera to work overtime. While Robertson stood on the mound frustrated with himself for not putting away Davis, he understood the manager's thinking.

"He's pretty good," Robertson said of Rivera.

Rivera ended the eighth with a groundout by Brett Lawrie, leaving Davis at second. In the ninth, Rivera would allow two singles to begin the inning before being gifted a failed sacrifice bunt. He would end the inning by making Ryan Goins ground out and, with the tying run at third and the winning run at second, Rivera would strike out J.P. Arencibia on three pitches.

"It was a huge game," Rivera said. "Huge."

The Yankees are trying to make the last week and a half of the regular season about more than just Rivera's final goodbyes. On Wednesday, it was just about getting one in the books.

"We hadn't shaken hands in quite a while so it was kind of nice," Girardi said.

The Yankees lived another day. There will be another checkup on Thursday night.