A wild and not-so-wild night for Mariano

Yanks hit well, pitch well, beat Braves
Girardi gets the dreaded vote of confidence

I think it’s time for a Mariano Rivera Appreciation Thread.

In a way, it’s been a rough month for Mo. In Boston, he didn’t pitch because Joe Girardi opted for lesser relievers late in a close game. In New York a few days earlier, he gave up the game while battling what sounded like a very bad stomach flu. Then against the Mets, he almost drew a loss but walked away with a win when Luis Castillo forgot how to use two hands. After that, he threw an inning against the Nationals on the 16th and well, sat for eight days.

So last night, the Yankees called upon Mariano in the 8th. Tony Peña, taking a page from my playback but no the accepted MLB Managerial Handbook of Relief Pitching, called upon Rivera with the Yanks up by just two runs in the 8th. Rivera recorded the third out of the inning via the K, and then a funny thing happened on the way to the 9th: Rivera actually had to come to the plate.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Mariano Rivera was due for just his second plate appearance of his career. His last time up was June 20, 2006 against the Phillies. It had been a while, to say the least.

Rivera was, of course, unprepared. According to Bryan Hoch, he had to use Cody Ransom’s bat and Alfredo Aceves‘ helmet. Melky offered Mo the use of his batting gloves, and his coaches told him not to swing.

Rivera ignored those instructions. He swung at a fastball and lined it to Nate McClouth in center. It could have been a two-run single. After the game, Rivera was apologetic. “I’ve got to take a swing,” Rivera said. “I apologized to my pitching coach and manager, but I had to do it.”

The players were laughing about it, and Joe Girardi was fairly amused. “It’s not what you really want to see, but he had quite a swing,” Girardi said. “When he hit it, I thought we were going to get a few more runs on the board.” If only.

Meanwhile, Rivera went back out for the 9th and promptly ended the game. He threw 15 pitches in the 9th, and just four of them were out of the strike zone. No one managed to put the ball in play against the Braves, and Matt Diaz, Nate McLouth and Yunel Escobar all struck out. For Rivera, it was just another night in the park: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 4 K, 15 of 19 pitches for strikes. Game over. Order restored. Yanks win. And that is Mariano for you. What we will do without him in a few years, I do not know.

Yanks hit well, pitch well, beat Braves
Girardi gets the dreaded vote of confidence
  • jsbrendog

    i watched the whole game and missed his at bat. WTF damn you cruel fate.

    but as for the mo appreciation, anyone who doesnt cant really be a yankee fan. yeah sure there’s guys like jeter and posada but some people dont like them, they might have abrasive attitude or lack of range./…but i just cant for the life of me see someone not loving and appreciating mariano rivera…

    mariano equal sign teh awesome

  • V

    Serious hypothetical question:

    Mariano pitches to the tune of a 2.50 ERA in 2009. Sub-2.25 with great peripherals in 2011.

    At the age of 41, his contract is up. How much do you pay him (years, money) to stay?

    • V

      Note: great peripherals and no sign of velocity/cutter decline.

      • the artist formerly known as (sic)

        Interesting hypothetical…One problem is that the velocity has already dipped this year. The second problem is that I doubt Mo would want another multiyear deal at 41. But I have to think that year-to-year would be the smart way for the Yanks. Like Wakefield but more dough. Just my $0.02

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Will he go year to year? I’ll keep dropping successive 15M one year deals on him.

    • ChrisS

      I don’t know if he’s interested in staying. He said that the last four-year contract was his last and he’s going to retire and be a priest.

      But who knows.

      • jsbrendog

        by priest you mean become a demi god and have his own priests?

      • the artist formerly known as (sic)

        Not a priest. He’s not Catholic. An evangelist in Latin America.

        • ChrisS

          Potato/potato

          I’m not up on my man of cloth designations for each cult religious flavor.

        • Jamal G.

          Are you sure? Most people from Panama are Catholic.

          • the artist formerly known as (sic)

            100%. Friendly of family.

            /toots own horn
            //sounds like an ass

            • the artist formerly known as (sic)

              edit – friend, not friendly.

              • Jamal G.

                Nah, that’s pretty God damn cool, actually. Are you Panamanian as well?

                • the artist formerly known as (sic)

                  No just really lucky. My favorite baseball moment remains us being able to go back behind the stadium and watch him throw his pen in this chain-link surrounded bullpen. It was dead quiet and the only thing you could hear was the zip the ball made before it hit the glove. It was pure art.

                  Anyway, he’s a cool dude, cooler than you would think.

                • the artist formerly known as (sic)

                  This was in ST, btw. in florida.

                • Eric S

                  I met Mo briefly outside the clubhouse 2 years ago (I had access as I was working for MLBAM at the time) and he was an absolute gentleman and class act. One of these days, he’s going to be introduced at Old-Timer’s Day, and the Stadium is going to go WILD…

                • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

                  One of these days, he’s going to be introduced at Old-Timer’s DayCooperstown, and the Stadium World is going to go WILD…

                  fixed.

    • jsbrendog

      1 yr deals at his current salary sine by then someone will be making more money a yr as a closer (crazy as it sounds) and youre nto going to give any mroe to a 41 yr old but youre also not gonna drop his salary because if you bring him back the only reason is because he still has it and would therefore still relatively be worth it.

      imo

  • pat

    Not only did he strike out Diaz and Mclouth, he made them look like little leaguers.

  • the artist formerly known as (sic)

    All praise to the HypnoMo

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    The best pitch anyone got to hit last night that involved Mariano Rivera was the pitch Mariano hit to centerfield.

  • pete c.

    I’ve seen Mantle, Maris, Munson, Mattingly, Pinela, Reggie, the list goes on and on, quite frankly I think Mo could play with any of them and I believe they’d be happy to have him, if that’s true, that would be the biggest endoresment of all. Quote your stats all you want, the one thing about him is when he’s out there there is no fear, from him or the guy’s behind him, and that is the most difficult thing to replace when he’s gone.

    • http://www.twitter.com/TheManchine Bruno

      Amen

    • Jamal G.

      You know how teammates get to that point, where there’s no “fear” when a pitcher of theirs is on the mound? By said pitcher putting up the stats that Mariano Rivera has. It has nothing to do with his demeanor, but all to do with his track record of success.

      • I remember Celerino Sanchez

        Yes and no. Clearly Mo’s dominant stats are what inspire confidence in his teammates. But Mo’s demeanor — never panic, cool, assassain-like — similarly feeds both his success (and numbers), since it unnerves batters (in addition to his great pitches), and the confidence of his teammates.

        You think teammates of more erratic but successful closers (*cough* Papelbon *cough*) feel the same way the Yanks do about Mo? Doubtful.

        • Jamal G.

          Yes, I think th Red Sox (prior to this season and his penchant for allowing so many baserunners) feel just as confident in the Jonathan Papelbon as the Yanks do in Rivera; the Twins do in Joe Nathan; and the Royals do in Joakim Soria.

          Joe Nathan has a quiet demeanor about him and the track record, so, why wouldn’t players on the Twins feel just as confident in him as the Yanks do in Rivera? Papelbon hasn’t allowed a run in postseason play, thus, I think the Red Sox feel the same way about him as the Yankees do in their own postseason stalwart closer.

          • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

            All good points.

            I’m just backing up pete c’s point that Mo inspires confidence in his teammates in a special way.

            Soria, Nathan and Papelbon don’t have the track record or reputation Mo does. And thus, I don’t think they have the same monster level of respect.

            • pete c.

              Thanks IRCS, I understand your point Jamal, but I do know this, when I’m working for a person there are two things I look for; does he know his buisness(nobody wants to work for someone dumber than them) and when the, sh!t hits the fan, does he keep his cool. Mo has a record of success that transcends his stat line, and I know, speaking this way sacrelidge (sp), but I know if I take a look in a man’s eyes or at his stat line how he looks back at me say’s more than any stat. If stats were the only thing that matters Dice K would have been in the running for the Cy last year.

          • jsbrendog

            you know who doesn’t? k-rod’s team mates

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheManchine Bruno

    “That was good — for a guy that doesn’t hit on the field?” Robinson Cano said. “That’s what happens when you’ve got skills.”

    ’nuff said.

  • GG

    Love the whole post except one phrase thrown in there at the end: Order has not been restored, we are still FIVE games back…we need to go on a roll and have the Sawx go on a slide

    • Jamal G.

      I’m not saying I’m throwing in the towel for the ALE crown, but do you honestly care how we get into the postseason?

      • RAB poster

        I don’t. But I want to stick to those Sox assholes.

      • pat

        I’d almost rather go into the playoffs as the underdog for once.

        • Jamal G.

          Uh, 2007?

          • pat

            Oh Jamal, you and your dates and such. I guess they were technically dogs that season you’re right. BUT WE HAVN”T BEEN SINCE THEN!!

      • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

        Very true.

        Plus, five games on June 25 is not panic time.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Derek Lowe was being interviewed on the Michael Kay show yesterday.

          He said he doesn’t start looking at the standings until “about August 15th. Before then, you should just focus on your own team”.

          • pat

            Yeah but D-Lowe was blackout drunk at the time so you gotta take that with a grain of salt.

            • jsbrendog

              hilarious.

          • RAB poster

            Well that’s stupid.

        • chriskeo

          remember 1978?

      • JP

        I care. Not because it matters per se, but because I think the team that wins the AL East is the best team. I think the Yankees, roster-wise, have the best team, and I want to know that they are playing up to their ability. They will be if they win the division.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Patience, young padawan.

  • Kevin

    Mo didn’t blow a save against the Mets – it was a tie game. He’s 16/17 in save situations this year.

    • andrew

      it says he almost had a loss.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Ben altered it with his magical admin powers. Totalitarian socialist autocracies always control the media.

        He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.

  • http://myspace.com/lincolnsworld Link

    I grew up in the age of Righetti. I remember his 46 save season and other great moments. But with Rags you knew he was never going to give you a lights out save. Then there were other assorted folks (Farr, Wetteland) until Mo came along. He has been so awesome. It’s funny that even with all his success, his first 2 playoff blown saves may have been the only thing that stopped us from winning 6 straight (97 against Alomar, 01 against Gonzo) and of course the 04 ALCS which I have convinced myself never happened. I am curious to see who the Yankees put in that role, they don’t seem to be grooming an heir apparent. Melancon?

    • JP

      If this were Mo’s final year, probably Bruney would get first shot at closer….Mo is signed through 2011, though, so who knows if Bruney will even be in baseball then.

      Coke could probably close games. He has low-mid 90s velocity and good control, but they like to use the lefties in other ways usually.

      Hughes as closer!!

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Mo’s only signed through 2010. Both he and Jeter are free agents next winter.

        • http://myspace.com/lincolnsworld Link

          Wasn’t Cox at one point thought to be the heir apparent before he had his surgery? And what if Venditte continues to do well as he moves up? How wild would it be to have a switch pitching closer?

          • whozat

            Maybe by some fans Cox was. He was the guy who closed after Street left college, so people wanted to imagine that he was the next Huston Street. I don’t think he was, though.

            And, yeah, the surgery basically didn’t work for Cox, at least in terms of allowing him to return to baseball form.

            And Venditte is a 24 year old in lo-A who throws slop. They should move him up, but he’s a super-longshot to ever make the show.

            • http://myspace.com/lincolnsworld Link

              Lol @ slop. So Melancon it is?

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Cox was pretty nasty before the surgery.

              Post surgery, he’s just a different pitcher.

  • JP

    Seeing him in the dugout just before coming to the plate, with the squeaky clean batting helmet, was priceless. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a look on his face like that. Don’t know how to describe it…he looked younger…he reminded me of one of my kids getting ready to bat against a flamethrower in little league (and no, tsjc, I don’t make my kids pee on their hands).

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Sure, you don’t. Uh-huh.

      • jsbrendog

        they do it willingly

        • JP

          More likely unwillingly…same way they spray it on the seat and on the floor.

  • http://theyankeebomber.blogspot.com Conan

    Anyone notice he had a better swing with the bases juiced than Cano did?

    • John

      Yeah, I’m sure they were pitching Mariano the same as Cano….

    • whozat

      You think maybe — just maybe — he was getting better pitches to hit?

      Lessee…against whom should I pump fastballs? The 300+ hitting kid who can get the bat on anything and has some pop, or the 38 year old pitcher with 5 ABs EVER…

    • JP

      Yeah, he probably got a better pitch. But I’ll also guarantee you Mariano had ZERO fear of failure there, whereas Cano might have been on the verge of soiling his drawers.

      Maybe there’s a lesson in there for Robbie after all.

      • RAB poster

        Um, he had zero fear of failure because the situation didn’t matter.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Mo – 8.3 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 7.1 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 1.020 WHIP, 2.31 ERA

    Major League replacement options:
    Bruney – 9.2 K/9, 6.2 BB/9, 7.3 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 1.500 WHIP, 4.28 ERA
    Bruney, last two years – 9.5 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 4.4 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 0.926 WHIP, 2.18 ERA
    Marte – 9.7 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 7.3 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 1.264 WHIP, 3.43 ERA
    Robertson – 11.7 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 7.4 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 1.370 WHIP, 4.30 ERA
    Coke – 7.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 5.6 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 0.933 WHIP, 2.60 ERA
    Aceves – 6.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 7.4 H/9, 1.2 HR/9, 1.082 WHIP, 2.36 ERA

    Minor league replacement options:
    Melancon – 9.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 6.7 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 0.980 WHIP, 2.42 ERA
    WLDR – 10.2 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 6.8 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 1.171 WHIP, 2.62 ERA
    Claggett – 7.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 8.2 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 1.267 WHIP, 2.72 ERA
    R. Sanchez – 6.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 8.7 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 1.363 WHIP, 4.08 ERA
    H. Sanchez – 8.9 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 8.3 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 1.419 WHIP, 4.16 ERA
    Texeira – 8.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 7.5 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 1.192 WHIP, 2.54 ERA
    Whelan – 11.1 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, 5.3 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 1.188 WHIP, 2.98 ERA
    Kroenke – 7.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 8.4 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 1.385 WHIP, 3.42 ERA
    Dunn – 9.1 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 8.1 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 1.316 WHIP, 3.71 ERA

  • http://theyankeebomber.blogspot.com Conan

    Just kidding guys, relax – although there’s been a lot of frustration on my part watching Cano this season.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      So, you’re taking it out on us.

      Thanks.

      • http://theyankeebomber.blogspot.com Conan

        I was hoping someone else felt my pain…besides Bill Clinton.

    • JP

      “Aaah feel youuuuuure pain.”

      He’s exactly the kind of guy I think could be helped by the right kind of coaching, since it really seems like a mental, sports psychology type thing: patience, plate discipline, trust, etc.

      Maybe you can’t coach those things, maybe I’ve got it ass-backwards and the only things you can coach are mechanics.

      Still, even with his struggles, I’ll take him over just about any 2b in MLB.

      I got no way to back this up, but I think Cano will last longer and be more effective over a career than Pedroia. Just like Jorge v. Varitek, and Jeter v. Nomar.

      I may be dead wrong, but I see Pedroia as the kind of guy who will break down and who overachieves relative to his skill level, and will eventually come crashing back to earth.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        who? bill clinton? why would you coach BC at the plate?

  • AJ

    And people say MO is done. When he can’t pitch anymore we’ll just DH him.

  • Drew

    I thought teh Mo was done!!11!

  • Pingback: Quick Hits: Bruney, Chipper, Mo | River Avenue Blues