I saw Mariano Rivera get to the edge of a history-making save Saturday in Toronto and he went over the top today in the Bronx. The Yankees' closer pitched a perfect ninth inning in the Bombers' 6-4 win over Minnesota to earn his MLB-record 602nd save.
When it was over and Rivera had finished taking the congratulations of his teammates, they pushed him out to the mound and left him alone to take in the accolades from the roaring crowd. It was quite a scene. Reminded me of the Baltimore Orioles pushing Cal Ripken out of the dugout for his victory lap on that memorable night in 1995 when he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record.
The Yankees issued a 15-page pamphlet about Rivera for reporters covering their games in recent weeks. Some pretty funny notes:
---Rivera has 602 saves, and the next Yankee is Dave Righetti at 224. Rivera had 230 saves at old Yankee Stadium and today was his 60th at the new one. Next on his list is Camden Yards at 38.
---He has 312 on the road and 290 at home. His ERA in those 602 appearances is a stunning 0.66 and opponents are batting .161 against him.
---He has saves at 30 ballparks, including six that no longer exist.
---Today was his 446th save of exactly one inning. Only 11 have gone two innings. Two have been one pitch.
---At the time of his first save on May 17, 1996 vs. the then-California Angels, gas cost $1.30 a gallon and a stamp was 32 cents, only 13 of the current 30 MLB stadiums were in use and only 29 of the current big leaguers were active. Derek Jeter had 48 career hits and Alex Rodriguez had 12 home runs.
No question he's going to be No. 1 for a long time. Francisco Cordero is second to Rivera on the active saves list and he has a mere 323.
"It's a testament to Mo's consistency," Mark Teixeira told a group of us scribes over the weekend in Toronto. "His ERA in the postseason (0.71), oh-my goodness. He deserves to be on the top of this list.
"I can't think of, in sports, a better guy to play one position. There's usually arguments. Like basketball. Jordan or LeBron. People say Gretzky but Sidney Crosby in 10 or 15 years might have an argument. At this position with Mo, there is none."