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Monday, September 19, 2011

Mariano Rivera set to break saves record at home

Mariano Rivera set to break saves record at home

In 1969, for the first time in 49 years, Major League Baseball introduced a new statistic to a fan base more infatuated with numbers than any other.

Invented nine years earlier by a baseball journalist, the save was a stat that better measured the value of a reliever than the currant pitching statistics at the time (W/L and ERA).

Rule 10.19 of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball states the official scorer shall credit a pitcher with a save when such pitcher meets all four of the following conditions:

He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team
He is not the winning pitcher
He is credited with at least 1/3 of an inning pitched
He satisfies one of the following conditions:
He enters the game with a lead of no more then three runs and pitches for at least one inning
He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck
He pitches for at least 3 innings
The pitcher who specializes in closing out a game is referred to as a closer. Over the last forty-two years no man has been so defined by the word as No. 42 Mariano Rivera.

Since his emergence in the 1995 playoffs, the 6’2”, 185-pounder has been a fixture at the back of the Yankees bullpen. “Mo” as fans of the Pinstripes lovingly nicknamed him, has a pitching repertoire of one pitch. A hard-breaking mid-90s cut fastball. Even with only one pitch and even though he generally pitches just one inning per appearance, Rivera is still regarded as one of the most dominant pitchers in the game’s history.

Mariano has collected many accolades in his 17-year career. He is a 12-time all-star, a five-time reliever of the year, a World Series MVP, and has five World Series rings. Saturday afternoon Rivera notched his 601st save, tying Trevor Hoffman the all-time saves leader, a mark he will pass any day now.

There is something ever so perfect about Rivera. While baseball, and especially the Yankees have had many great players, few have been the total package the way Rivera is. A contemporary, Derek Jeter, has many of the same attributes. He handles pressure, is clean cut, lacks theatrics after big plays, and most importantly is a winner.

Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who collected his 3,000th hit before an emotional crowd at Yankee Stadium on July 9, wants Rivera to enjoy setting his all-time mark before the home fans.
“For Mo, I’m hoping that he gets an opportunity to do it at home,” Jeter said. “But we have to put him in position to do it at home. So we have to have a good homestand.”
Rivera will have eight chances to record the historic save before finishing the regular season with a series on the road against Tampa.
“I’ll tell you when it happens,” Rivera said, when asked about reaching the milestone at home. “I don’t know how it’s going to be.”
• While Girardi would understand the symbolism behind such a gesture, he said he likely wouldn’t bring longtime batterymate Jorge Posada into a game to catch Rivera during his next save opportunity.
“It’s not something that we’ve done a lot,” Girardi said. “We’ve caught him one time, and the games are important right now. It’s something that we can talk about, but I’m probably going to stick with our catchers. That’s what I’m going to do. What happens if something goes wrong?”
• Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4 but emerged from his second straight start feeling encouraged. His sprained left thumb had endured the rigors of game play.
“It felt pretty good,” said Rodriguez.
Before Sunday’s game, Girardi said he was considering giving Rodriguez a day off today.
• Eduardo Nunez ran into an out in the sixth inning. After hitting a single to right field, he kept running through the bag toward second, where he was thrown out. It was the latest bit of sloppy play that plagued the Yankees during their road trip.
“Those are things we need to address,” Rodriguez said.
• The Yankees were forced to borrow walkie-talkies from stadium police when the Rogers Centre bullpen phones malfunctioned during the game.
• Right-hander Phil Hughes intends to play catch today. He has been bothered by back spasms, though Sunday he said his condition improved. At one point this weekend, Hughes said his back had locked up so much that he had trouble putting on his pants.
• Right-hander A.J. Burnett flew ahead to New York. He will start today’s makeup game against the Twins. Righty Ivan Nova pitches Tuesday against the Rays. CC Sabathia and Hughes will start in Wednesday’s doubleheader, while Bartolo Colon draws the assignment on Thursday.

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