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Updated: September 19th, 2011 3:36pm
Twins Daily: Mariano Rivera mows down Twins to breaks saves record

Twins Daily: Mariano Rivera mows down Twins to breaks saves record

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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By pitching a clean ninth inning, closer Mariano Rivera passed Trevor Hoffman for first place on the all-time saves list on Monday as the New York Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-4 in the Bronx.

The skinny

It's probably only fitting.

Nearly one full calendar year after the two teams met in the American League Division Series, the Twins (59-93) and Yankees (92-60) find themselves with nearly identically opposite records this season.

And due to a rainout back in mid-August, the two teams were forced to play a relatively meaningless game on Monday afternoon.

So it only makes sense that under these circumstances the stars would align for Rivera to trot out from the bullpen with a two-run, ninth-inning lead -- a lead he protected by retiring Trevor Plouffe, Michael Cuddyer and Chris Parmelee in order to record his record-breaking 602nd career save.

For a minute, it looked like the Twins might have missed their flight to New York.

The Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead on left-hander Scott Diamond in the first three innings while beleaguered New York righty A.J. Burnett struck out seven of the first 12 batters he faced.

The Twins eventually started to punch back with a solo homer by Parmelee in the fourth inning, followed by a three-run fifth inning that was highlighted by a two-run bomb off the bat of Cuddyer.

Diamond was chased after only four innings. He allowed five earned runs on 10 hits and three walks, striking out one and hurling 91 pitches.

Every Yankees starter had at least one hit, including three by Derek Jeter, who raised his batting line on the season to .295/.351/.383 with a double and a pair of singles. Curtis Granderson belted his 41st home run of the season in the bottom of the first inning off Diamond -- a two-run blast to put the Yankees on the board before an out was recorded.

Turning point

After falling behind by five runs early, the Twins scored three runs in the top of the fifth to cut it to 5-4 -- but they may have left a crooked number on the table.

Cuddyer's two-run homer cut the lead to 5-3, and the Twins continued the momentum by loading the bases with nobody out via a double by Parmelee, a walk by Danny Valencia and a single by Brian Dinkelman.

Luke Hughes drove in a run with a groundout to cut the lead to 5-4, but Joe Benson and Rene Rivera each chased pitches out of the zone to end the threat.

Numbers game

32: Career regular season saves for Rivera against the Twins.

1.34: Career regular season ERA for Rivera against the Twins heading into Monday.

1: The number of times Burnett has pitched beyond six innings since the All-Star break. Burnett gave up four earned runs on nine hits and a walk in four innings. He struck out eight and threw 85 pitches.

1-for-14: The Twins' offense with runners in scoring position.

Health report

• OF Jason Repko's CT scan came back OK after taking a fastball to the helmet during Sunday's game against the Indians. He did not travel with the team to New York.

• RHP Scott Baker (elbow) is expected to be available out of the bullpen beginning Tuesday.

• 2B Alexi Casilla will test out his hamstring within the next couple days in hopes of being cleared to play before the season ends next week.

• OF Denard Span (migraine/concussion symptoms) did not travel to New York, but there is still hope he will play in a game or two before the end of the year.

On deck

The Twins return home Tuesday to begin a three-game series with the Mariners (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) with right-hander Liam Hendriks (0-2, 6.00) squaring off against right-hander Jason Vargas (8-13, 4.38).

As bad as the Twins have been offensively this season, the Mariners have been even worse. Seattle enters the series ranking last in batting average (.233), on-base percentage (.293) and slugging (.346). As a result, the Mariners have scored a league-low 517 runs, making the Twins' total of 578 look like a breakout.

The Twins, meanwhile, came into Monday hitting .244/.304/.354 as a unit.

In other words, don't be afraid to bet the under.

Coming up

• Wednesday: vs. Mariners, 7:10 p.m. RHP Kevin Slowey (0-6, 6.51) vs. RHP Michael Pineda (9-10, 3.72)
• Thursday: vs. Mariners, 12:10 p.m. RHP Anthony Swarzak (3-7, 4.52) vs. RHP Blake Beavan (5-5, 3.92)
• Friday: @ Indians, 6:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (8-13, 4.40) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (12-10, 3.15)

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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