Diamondbacks-Yankees Preview

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.

The Yankees’ Francisco Cervelli and Lyle Overbay have each gone

7 for their last 16.