• 50°

Major Leagues: Rivera adds to legacy

By Jay Cohen
Associated Press
NEW YORK ó Mariano Rivera has seen all the histrionics by some closers. It’s fine, he said, because it’s part of their personalities.
Rivera has his own way of celebrating a big save for the Yankees.
“I go home,” he said. “Simple as that. As quick as I finish, I go home.”
Rivera went home Sunday night with his 500th save, getting four outs in a 4-2 victory over the Mets to become the second major leaguer to reach the milestone. He also got his first career RBI with a bases-loaded walk against Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever see another Mariano Rivera,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I really don’t believe we will.”
The 39-year-old reliever’s landmark save featured some of the mettle that has made him so reliable over the years. He threw a called third strike past Omir Santos with runners on first and third to end the eighth, bending his cutter to the inside corner.
Daniel Murphy blooped a two-out single in the ninth, but Rivera retired Alex Cora on a bouncer to second.
“He makes everything so easy,” Rodriguez said, “and I know as a closer it’s not easy, at all.”
Rivera got the ball and a hug from first baseman Mark Teixeira after the final out. Other Yankees soon made their way to the infield near first to congratulate the backbone of four World Series championship teams and 10 division title winners.
“As far as I’m concerned, the success that this organization has had over the last 14 years, he’s probably the biggest reason,” Andy Pettitte said. “I don’t think anybody gives enough credit to how hard it is to close games out.”
Rivera has saved 59 of Pettitte’s 222 wins, a major league record for a closer-starter combo and just one in a slew of staggering numbers from the right-hander’s career. It was his 110th save of four outs or more ó an unheard of total with today’s closers rarely required to pitch more than an inning. He has blown just 13 regular-season save chances since 2005 and 61 in 15 major league seasons.
Rivera also has proven himself on baseball’s biggest stage, going 8-1 with a 0.77 ERA and a major league-record 34 saves in the postseason.
“It’s very, very difficult to be consistent year in and year out,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. “He’s been consistent every year.”
Rivera, Jeter, Pettitte and Jorge Posada came up through the minors together. Rivera was a starter when he made it to the majors in 1995 and went 5-3 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 games, 10 starts, in his first season with New York.
Girardi was traded to the Yankees in November 1995 and first saw Rivera pitch when he caught him early in spring training.
“I remember asking myself, `Who’s this guy?’ because I was like `Wow, he’s got great stuff,”‘ the manager said. “He burst on the scene in ’96 and was as dominant as any reliever I’ve ever seen.”
Rivera teamed with John Wetteland to give the Yankees a dominant presence at the back end of games as New York won its first World Series title in 18 years. He was 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 107 2-3 innings, helping Wetteland finish with an AL-best 43 saves.
Rivera earned his first big league save that year, too. He finished Pettitte’s 8-5 victory over the California Angels on May 17, 1996, getting Garret Anderson to ground into a game-ending double play. Girardi and Jeter each had two hits and an RBI in the game.
“I was just happy to be in the big leagues,” Rivera said. “I wasn’t thinking to achieve anything, just be in the big leagues and do the best that I could for my team and everything (else), just blessings from above. I didn’t expect any of this.”
Wetteland was the World Series MVP but the Yankees let him leave as a free agent, handing the job to an untested Rivera. He responded with 43 saves and a 1.88 ERA before stumbling in the postseason, when he surrendered Sandy Alomar Jr.’s tying homer in Game 4 of New York’s first-round loss to Cleveland.
He didn’t blow another postseason save opportunity until Luis Gonzalez’s game-ending single in the ninth inning of 2001 World Series Game 7.
“It’s pretty amazing what he’s been able to do with pretty much a fastball,” Posada said. “Best in the business.”
Rivera has said he’s all about helping the Yankees win another World Series.
“To become the greatest closer of all-time in the largest city in the world, under the most pressure and scrutiny that you can have ó with one pitch, to boot, it’s just amazing,” general manager Brian Cashman said.
And it almost didn’t happen. There was some debate before the 1996 season about whether Jeter was ready to become the everyday shortstop and the Yankees considered trading Rivera to the Seattle Mariners for Felix Fermin. They concluded Jeter was ready.
“We thought we didn’t need a shortstop,” Cashman said. “We did not know we were sitting on a Hall of Famer.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey

News

Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County

College

Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park

Lifestyle

History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County

Business

‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove

Coronavirus

Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations

Education

‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year

Columns

Ester Marsh: What body type are you?

Nation/World

The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone

Nation/World

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

Nation/World

US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency

Nation/World

Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs

Nation/World

FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight

Crime

Gastonia man sentenced for crash into restaurant that killed his daughter, daughter-in-law

Nation/World

Some call for charges after video of police shooting 13-year-old in Chicago

Business

State unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March

Coronavirus

NASCAR approach to virus vaccine varies greatly

News

Judge rejects Cherokee challenge against new casino in Kings Mountain

Elections

Jackson tops NC Senate fundraising; Walker coffers also full

Local

Kiwanis Pancake Festival serves thousands of flapjacks for charity

Coronavirus

Rowan remains in state’s middle, yellow tier for COVID-19 community spread