Mariano Rivera is a marvel. His 16-year career, spent entirely in a Yankees uniform, has resulted in 572 saves and 75 wins and counting. On Wednesday, he appeared in his 1,000th game, the 15th pitcher to do so and the first to do it with one team. His save in the victory over the Blue Jays gave the Yankees a hair’s breadth lead over Boston by half a game.
As of Thursday, Tampa is 1.5 games out, but the AL East isn’t even out of reach for Baltimore (3.0 back) or Toronto (3.5 back).
If anything, the series against the Jays broadcast the need for a big-time closer to be successful. On Tuesday Toronto starter Ricky Romero held the Bombers to one run in seven innings, but the Yankees scored two each in the eighth and ninth for the win. On Wednesday, Jo-Jo Reyes couldn’t make it past the third inning, surrendering five runs. Rivera was lights out in that game and lowered his ERA to 1.71 in earning his 13th save in 16 opportunities while writing his name one more time in the record books.
Joe Girardi’s comments after the game were priceless. According to yankees.com, “It just tells you how great he is at his trade, because he’s really never fooled people,” Girardi said of Rivera’s signature cutter. “It wasn’t like you’re looking for a fastball and you get a changeup. Or you’re looking for a fastball and you get a curveball. Mo has said, ‘Here it is, it’s going to cut, it’s going to sink and I’m going to throw it where I want. And try to do something with it.’ And I can’t think of any pitcher that’s really ever done that.”
For 16 years and 1,000 games, batters have tried to do something with Rivera’s cutter and have generally failed. Not too shabby for a guy from a small fishing village in Panama with just one pitch.
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Written by Stephanie Geosits