Tag:Mariano Rivera
Posted on: September 21, 2011 11:31 pm

For the Yankees, one more great moment

Everywhere else, it seems, there are nervous moments.

For the Yankees, there are only great moments.

Maybe it won't be that way next month. Maybe the Yankee faults will show up, the rotation will be as fragile as it looks, and there will be disappointment in the Bronx.

For now, there are only nights like Wednesday.

Storybook nights.

The Yankees turned a foregone conclusion into something dramatic, but in the best possible way. They took a simple division-clinching game with a week to go in the season and turned it into theater.

And they found a way to give Jorge Posada his moment.


Posada has been the discarded Yankee all year, the disrespected Yankee. First they wouldn't let him catch, then they wouldn't even let him hit.

His biggest role was to celebrate with his friends, first for Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit and then for Mariano Rivera's 600th and record-setting 602nd save.

Then, suddenly and stunningly, the Yankees let Posada send them into the playoffs.

They sent him to the plate as a pinch hitter, with the bases loaded and the score tied in the eighth inning Wednesday night, and they watched him deliver the tie-breaking hit, sending them to a division-clinching 4-2 win over the Rays.

Of course.

Why not?

While the Red Sox struggle to hold off the Rays and now the Angels for the American League wild card, the Yankees have already won their 17th American League East title. For Posada, it's his 12th AL East crown he has been a part of, even if he has only been a small part of this one.

He was their starting catcher in the playoffs last year, but they told him in spring training that they didn't even want him to touch the equipment. He actually played second base this year before he caught.

He had the ugly night against the Red Sox, when he asked out of the lineup after manager Joe Girardi decided to bat him ninth. He had another tough night against the Red Sox, when Girardi let him know that he wasn't going to play much.

In 21 games this month, since rookie Jesus Montero was promoted to the big leagues, Posada has started just three of the 21 games the Yankees played. And yet, in the eighth inning Wednesday, Girardi chose Posada to pinch hit for Montero.

As CC Sabathia said Wednesday night on the YES network, plenty of people (and yes, I was one of them) said the Yankees wouldn't win the division because their rotation wasn't good enough.

So far, because of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon and rookie Ivan Nova, it has been.

Will it be good enough next month?

Plenty of people will say it won't be. Maybe this time, plenty of people will be right.

But in this year where the Yankees have been able to summon great moments seemingly at will, maybe there will be more.

Posted on: September 14, 2011 1:01 am
Edited on: September 14, 2011 1:22 am

Rivera gets his 600th save

For 15 years he's been doing this.

Ending games. Making it look much, much easier than it is.

For 15 years. Through 600 saves.

Before Tuesday, only Trevor Hoffman had saved 600 games in the major leagues. Now Mariano Rivera has joined him, by getting the final three outs in the Yankees' 3-2 win over the Mariners in Seattle.

And with one more save, his 601st, Rivera will tie Hoffman atop baseball's all-time list. With two more, he'll stand alone.

As if he doesn't already.

His 600th save was familiar, but at the same time it was different. Familiar, in that Rivera relied on his trademark cutter for two strikeouts. But different, because after Ichiro Suzuki reached base on a single, Russell Martin threw him out trying to steal to end the game.

No matter, and no real drama. As usual.

According to STATS, Inc., Rivera has a 1.92 ERA in his 672 career save opportunities. Rivera also has a record 42 postseason saves, in 47 chances.

It's not as if the 41-year-old Rivera is done, either. His 600th career save was his 41st in 46 chances this year, his 12th straight since his last blown save on Aug. 7.

Rivera got his first career save on May 17, 2006, at the old Yankee Stadium against the Angels. He was John Wetteland's setup man then, and he had just five saves that season. He took over as the Yankee closer in 2007, and he hasn't given the job up yet.

He hasn't given many leads up, either.

And now he has 600 saves.
Category: MLB
Posted on: September 13, 2011 7:14 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 1:05 am

If nothing else, 600 lets us recognize Rivera

We celebrate big round numbers, and we celebrate records.

We followed every step Derek Jeter took as he closed in on 3,000 hits. We weren't thrilled with the idea that Barry Bonds was passing Hank Aaron, but we watched.

Now Mariano Rivera has 600 saves. He's one save away from Trevor Hoffman's career record.

And we're not really sure what to make of it.

We don't know what to make of 600 saves. We don't know what to make of the saves record.

What to make of a record obscure enough that Jeff Reardon once held it? What to make of a record that Lee Smith held while he was on the Hall of Fame ballot, but wasn't enough to get him even 50 percent of the votes?

It's not like with two more saves, Rivera is going to replace Hoffman as the greatest closer ever. With all respect to Hoffman, who had an outstanding career, Rivera has long been seen as the greatest closer ever.

We don't need a number to tell us that, any more than we've needed numbers to acknowledge Rivera's greatness through his career. He's led the league in saves just three times in 15 years as a closer (and not once since 2004), even though almost every one of those years he was the best closer in the game.

And if 600 gives us a chance to recognize that, so much the better. If the record helps us demonstrate that, well, fine.

We know that saves don't measure a closer's worth. We know that the save stat is flawed.

Rivera can go weeks without a save (as he did earlier this year) without doing anything wrong, simply because the Yankees scored too many runs in the games they won, never creating a save opportunity.

A day after Rivera reached 599 on Sunday in Anaheim, he sat unused Monday in Seattle, where the Yankees won, 9-1. Until the Yankees took the lead in the sixth inning Tuesday, there was no certainty he would get 600 that night, either.

But they did score. And when they took a 3-2 lead to the ninth, he held it, as he had done 599 times before.

He depends on his teammates more than anyone, because he can't get a save unless they lead -- and not by too much.

The biggest reason Rivera has never had a 60-save season: The Yankees have never created 60 save opportunities for him.

A hitter goes to the park every day with a chance to a hit or a home run. A starting pitcher goes to the park every five days with a chance to get a win (assuming, of course, that his team doesn't get shut out).

A closer has no idea whether there will be a save opportunity today, tomorrow or this week.

Thus, we have no idea when Rivera will get a chance at his 601st save. It's a hard chase to follow, much harder than Jeter's run at 3,000 hits or Jim Thome's chase of 600 home runs.

It's nothing like a starter going for 300 wins.

What to make of 600 saves? I'm still not sure.

But I know what to make of Mariano Rivera, and this is as good a time to recognize it as any.

Posted on: July 6, 2011 6:03 pm

Rivera improved, 'definitely' ready Thursday

CLEVELAND -- Mariano Rivera, who hasn't pitched since Sunday because of soreness in his right triceps, said he'll "definitely" be available when the Yankees return home to play the Rays Thursday night.

Rivera played catch again Wednesday, and didn't totally rule out pitching Wednesday night against the Indians. But the Yankees' 41-year-old closer suggested that it's more likely that he would get a third straight day off.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 4, 2011 9:51 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 9:57 pm

Rivera sore and unavailable, but unconcerned

CLEVELAND -- When a 41-year-old closer says his arm is sore and he's unavailable to pitch, it's a big deal. When it's the best closer of all time, it's a bigger deal.

Mariano Rivera insists this isn't.

Rivera said he has "a little soreness" in the lower triceps of his right arm, just above the elbow. He wasn't available to pitch in the Yankees' 6-3 loss to the Indians Monday night, but said he hopes to be able to pitch Tuesday.

"I'm not concerned about it," Rivera said. "Not at all. [Just] little things that happen."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Rivera's absence led him to leave starter A.J. Burnett in the game longer Monday night. Handed a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning, Burnett gave up four runs, three on an Austin Kearns home run. Girardi said he was holding David Robertson out as his fill-in closer.

Girardi said that at this point, he's not concerned about Rivera.

"If it goes on for a few days, you'd be more concerned," he said.

Rivera said the soreness had nothing to do with what happened Sunday against the Mets, when he issued his first walk since May 28 and then suffered his first blown save since May 18.

"When I'm pitching, I don't feel anything," he said.
Category: MLB
Posted on: January 12, 2011 3:01 pm

Hoffman: 'It's a compliment to be called closer'

The day Trevor Hoffman retired, another team spent money on a reliever.

A middle reliever.

The Rays guaranteed Kyle Farnsworth $3.25 million, a lot of money for an up-and-down 34-year-old who has pretty much proven he can't close (no saves since 2008), but not out of line with where the relief market has been all winter.

It's been funny. Teams are spending big -- by my count, 13 relievers have already received multiyear contracts -- but most all of the money has gone to guys who either haven't been closers, weren't signed as closers or were signed as possible closers.

Meanwhile, Rafael Soriano, who led the American League with 43 saves, has yet to find a contract to his liking. By some accounts, he could end up signing with the Yankees -- as a big-money setup man.

And the Rangers are planning to take their 40-save closer, Neftali Feliz, and audition him as a starter in spring training.

What in the name of 601 saves is going on here?

Obviously, a lot of teams don't agree with the all-time saves leader, who (not surprisingly) strongly believes in the value of a top closer.

"It's a tremendous compliment to be called a closer," Hoffman said on a conference call.

Hoffman also said that Lee Smith once told him, "There's never been an easy save."

I'm not sure I agree with that, but I do agree that a top closer has big value. As Hoffman said, "The value is there. Ask any manager. . . . You don't realize the impact of a closer until games don't get closed down."

The Padres understood that for a lot of years with Hoffman. The Yankees understand, which is why they were eventually willing to go to two years and $30 million to keep 41-year-old Mariano Rivera happy and employed.

Other teams seem more willing to spend money on the middle guys.

We'll see how that works.
Posted on: December 5, 2010 4:56 pm

Baseball's big week begins . . . now

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Baseball's Winter Meetings begin Monday.

Or did they start Sunday? Or maybe last week?

It's a little hard to tell, given how fast and furious (and sometimes confusing) the hot stove has been. In the last few days alone, the Yankees re-signed Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez.

Or maybe they didn't.

As the baseball world traveled to Walt Disney World for this week's meetings (and yes, they do officially begin on Monday), multiple reports said that the Red Sox hadn't been able to reach a contract agreement with Gonzalez before a 2 p.m. Sunday deadline, which very likely means the big trade with the Padres won't happen.

Gonzalez's future will be a topic for executives in the lobby at the Dolphin Hotel, but so will the future of Zack Greinke (who could be traded by the Royals), Jayson Werth (who MLB.com reported was close to signing with the Nationals), Cliff Lee (who probably won't sign anywhere this week) and Carl Crawford.

Despite all that has happened since the World Series ended, the potential exists for a lively week.

And it begins Monday. Or Sunday. Or something like that.
Posted on: July 12, 2010 8:03 pm

AL will try to win without Rivera in the 9th

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For years, the American League has won the All-Star Game.

For years, Mariano Rivera has closed out American League wins in the All-Star Game. Or at least it seems that way.

The Yankees closer has recorded the final out in four of the last six All-Star Games. He has four All-Star saves, dating back to 1997, the first year of the AL's current unbeaten streak.

So here we are in 2010, and the AL won't have Rivera available in the ninth inning. Rivera announced last week that he has been pitching hurt (left side and right knee), and that he needed the extra days off to be ready for the second half.

Will it make a difference?

"That's a weapon the American League has been able to have for I don't even know how many years," A's closer (and AL All-Star) Andrew Bailey said. "It's a weapon the Yankees have every day. The game's over as soon as he comes in."

AL manager Joe Girardi said he wasn't sure who would pitch the ninth inning for the American League Tuesday.

"I think there are some very good choices in [Jose] Valverde, [Rafael] Soriano, [Joakim] Soria, guys that are used to closing," Girardi said.

Rivera, an 11-time All-Star, hasn't allowed an earned run in eight All-Star innings.

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