There's never any guarantee that a relief pitcher will get into a game, but it seems like a good bet that Mariano Rivera will be coming out of the bullpen for the New York Yankees against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.
The future Hall of Fame closer and last player to wear No. 42 is in his final season, and he'll be joined by teammates and opponents alike in wearing 42 on their jerseys as Major League Baseball commemorates the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier.
Though the formal honoring of Robinson's feat took place Monday, as Robinson made his debut April 15, 1947, the festivities continuing a day later at Yankee Stadium seems particularly appropriate with Rivera appearing in uniform for the final time during the landmark anniversary. MLB retired Robinson's No. 42 across baseball in 1997, and Rivera will be the final one to wear it as he's announced his retirement after the season.
"As a minority, I feel honored wearing the No. 42 and carrying the legacy that Jackie Robinson left," Rivera told MLB's official website. "I wear it with good pride. That's the way it goes. All the guys retired or left, and I'm still carrying the number. I feel blessed for that."
If Rivera does pitch Tuesday, the Yankees hope it's with a chance to extend their surge. New York (6-5) has won five of six since a rough start, defeating Baltimore 3-0 on Sunday.
Hiroki Kuroda pitched a five-hitter for his fifth career shutout, the fourth strong performance by a New York starter in the six-game span. In those four contests - all wins - starting pitchers went at least seven innings each time, allowing two total earned runs.
Ivan Nova will have to be much better than he was in his first start to add to that trend. The right-hander, who hasn't pitched since April 5 due to two consecutive weather postponements and then being skipped in the rotation, gave up four runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-3 loss at Detroit.
Nova seemed to be nearly a sure thing when he took the mound during a 30-start stretch June 10, 2011-June 23, 2012, going 21-2 with a 3.71 ERA while the Yankees went 25-5. Since then, he's 3-7 with a 6.00 ERA in 15 games, with his team posting a 5-10 mark.
Nova has never faced Arizona.
The Diamondbacks (8-4) have also gotten some strong pitching of late, posting shutouts in two of their last three. Arizona defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 on Sunday behind Trevor Cahill and three relievers.
However, Arizona will also be sending a struggling pitcher to the mound Tuesday in Brandon McCarthy (0-1, 7.71 ERA). The right-hander gave up six runs - four earned - and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to Pittsburgh last Tuesday in his second start.
"I apologized to him, because I feel like I called a really bad game," catcher Miguel Montero told MLB's website. "I think he had really good stuff going, I just didn't make the right calls.
"... I started mixing up, changing speeds more, because we were going hard, hard, hard. I think I'm going to grab what we did there and use it from now on, because it was pretty good."
McCarthy is 2-0 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts versus New York, the last coming in August 2011 while with Oakland.
Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt , batting a team-best .348, had an RBI single in the ninth inning Sunday and has gone 4 for 8 in the past two games.
|April 14, 2013||Aaron Hill||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore left hand|
|April 13, 2013||Jason Kubel||15-Day DL||Strained left quad|
|March 31, 2013||Didi Gregorius||15-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|March 27, 2013||Willie Bloomquist||15-Day DL||Strained right intercostal|
|March 27, 2013||Willie Bloomquist||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|March 22, 2013||Cody Ross||15-Day DL||Left calf strain|
|New York Yankees|
|April 12, 2013||Eduardo Nunez||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist contusion|
|March 26, 2013||Cesar Cabral||60-Day DL||Left elbow pain|
|March 22, 2013||Curtis Granderson||15-Day DL||Fractured right forearm|
|March 22, 2013||Derek Jeter||15-Day DL||Recovery from left ankle surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Phil Hughes||15-Day DL||Right upper back thoracic injury|
|March 22, 2013||Mark Teixeira||15-Day DL||Strained right wrist - out 8-10 weeks|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Robinson Cano and the New York Yankees found all sorts of ways to salute Jackie Robinson .
Cano, whose big league father named him for Robinson, hit a three-run homer. Mariano Rivera , the last major leaguer still wearing the late Hall of Famer's No. 42 on a daily basis, closed for a save.
The final score of the Yankees' win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night seemed equally appropriate: 4-2.
A fitting tribute, indeed, to the man who broke baseball's color barrier.
"That's what we try to do, not only today but every day," Rivera said. "It's special."
The Yankees also honored victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, starting with a pregame moment of silence.
Major League Baseball held Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, the anniversary of the date he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Arizona and New York were off Monday, so all players, managers, coaches and umpires at Yankee Stadium wore his number on this evening.
"It's amazing to get the chance to wear 42," Cano said.
The Yankees remembered Boston, home of their longtime rivals, by playing the Fenway Park favorite "Sweet Caroline" after the third inning. Several other teams around the majors followed suit.
Yankees fans sang along with the Neil Diamond hit as it came over the public-address system, and some people in the crowd wore Red Sox hats and jerseys.
"Thank you NY Yankees for playing `Sweet Caroline' for the people of Boston," Diamond wrote on his Twitter page. "You scored a home run in my heart. With respect, Neil (hashtag)OneBoston."
A ribbon was shown on the scoreboard displaying the insignia of the Red Sox and Yankees and the words: "New York stands with Boston ... Pray for Boston."
A message that read "United We Stand" showing the Red Sox and Yankees logos was posted on an electronic board atop the ballpark.
Earlier in the day, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it was time to "put the baseball teams aside" and recognize "we're all behind the people in Boston." Yankees infielder Kevin Youkilis , a longtime Red Sox star whose wife has run the Boston Marathon, said his family was "sick to our stomachs" watching news coverage of the bombings.
The Diamondbacks made their first trip to the Bronx since 2007, two years before the new Yankee Stadium opened. Arizona lost all three games at the old Yankee Stadium in the 2001 World Series, but wound up winning the championship at home in Game 7.
Cano's shot in the fourth helped the Yankees start the unusual portion of their interleague schedule - they'll face an NL opponent every month this season.
Ivan Nova (1-1) labored through five innings in his first game since April 5. Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.
"It's kind of funny seeing 42 face three 42s," Girardi said.
Brandon McCarthy (0-2) escaped bases-loaded jams in the first two innings before Cano hit his fourth homer for a 3-2 lead. McCarthy threw 102 pitches in the short outing.
"Just completely out of sync. I was not able to do a whole lot," he said. "I don't know what it was. I couldn't get right."
Eduardo Nunez added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Arizona took a 2-0 lead in the third on a sacrifice fly by Miguel Montero and an RBI single by Cody Ross .
NOTES: Cano's father, Jose Cano , pitched six games for Houston in 1989. ... Brittney Griner, picked No. 1 overall by the Phoenix Mercury in this week's WNBA draft, visited with manager Kirk Gibson and the Diamondbacks around the cage during batting practice. ... Injured Yankees SS Derek Jeter had a second straight day of on-field work at the spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., after two off days. Girardi said Jeter isn't likely to rejoin the team by May 1, once a projected return date. ... Yankees RHP Chien-Ming Wang will make his first start of the season for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday night against Syracuse. ... There was a pregame moment of silence for former New York Giants football star Pat Summerall.