Rivera, Yankees catch breaks in victory
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Mariano Rivera earned his 599th career save yesterday with help from Austin Romine - who was shopping in a store in Kentucky 24 hours earlier - as the New York Yankees beat the Angels, 6-5, to grab their biggest AL East lead of the season.
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson homered and New York scored two key runs when Peter Bourjos dropped a fly ball in the seventh inning as the Yankees snapped a four-game skid.
“We got a little bit lucky today,’’ said Rivera, who made his 1,036th appearance and moved two saves behind Trevor Hoffman’s major league record.
Derek Jeter had two hits and scored the go-ahead run for the Yankees, who moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox. The save was Rivera’s 40th of the season.
The Yankees’ four-game skid was their second-longest this season, but they still haven’t lost four straight road games all year.
“We’ve lost a lot of tough games,’’ said Mark Teixeira, who hit the decisive fly to Bourjos. “We’re beat up, very tired, but . . . we needed a break like that. We’ve been through a lot lately, and for us to scratch this one out, we could smell it. Once we got that lead, we weren’t going to give it back.’’
New York had two runners on in the seventh when Bourjos - normally an outstanding fielder - was blinded by the sun just long enough for Teixeira’s fly to deep center to simply pop out of his glove. Bourjos then missed the cutoff man with his throw, allowing Jeter to score easily from first base on the error.
“It kind of flashed into the sun for a second, but it’s a play I’ve got to make,’’ Bourjos said. “I think I needed to get in a little better position to catch it. It was a turning point in that game, and we lost it right there.’’
Howie Kendrick and Bourjos hit two-run homers for the Angels, who dropped 2 1/2 games behind AL West-leading Texas.
Romine made an unlikely debut one day after getting a call from manager Joe Girardi, a week after his minor league season concluded.
Romine, the son of former Red Sox outfielder Kevin Romine, grew up 10 minutes from Angel Stadium in Lake Forest. He came on in the seventh inning for fellow prospect Jesus Montero, who also was catching for the first time in the majors. Romine played in front of more than 20 family members - including Angels infielder Andrew Romine, his older brother.
“It’s a tremendous honor to catch [Rivera],’’ said Romine, the fifth catcher used by New York in four days.
Cory Wade (5-0) pitched the sixth inning for New York after Freddy Garcia scuffled through the first five, allowing five runs and seven hits.
Injuries are piling up during a 10-game trip for the Yankees, who played their second straight game without Alex Rodriguez and their third in a row without right fielder Nick Swisher. Rodriguez won’t return until at least tomorrow while resting a sore left thumb, while Swisher has tendinitis in his left elbow.
Catchers Francisco Cervelli and Russell Martin sat out to rest injuries, and Jorge Posada said he was sore after catching Saturday for the first time all season.
Ervin Santana (11-11) had eight strikeouts for the Angels, but allowed eight hits and four walks before leaving with two runners on in the sixth.
“We shot ourselves in the foot all day on the offensive side,’’ Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We had chances to score runners with just some outs, and we left a lot of guys on third base with less than two outs.’’