The ninth inning on Saturday was not pretty. Mariano Rivera entered a tie game, and promptly let the Rays hit him every which way, surrendering four runs (three earned) in a losing effort. This, of course, elicited three different responses. First, he’s old and he’s just no the same Mo. Second, he never pitches as well in non-save situations. Third, he’s fine and this kind of thing is bound to happen. Turns out that none were right (though the third group was closest).
Rivera was not fine. According to a teammate, as we learn from Yahoo’s Dave Brown, Mo was under the weather before the game.
For several hours before Rivera took the ball Saturday afternoon in that tie game, he’d suffered with a stomach ailment that brought aches and repeated vomiting, according to one Yankee. Rivera had rolled off the trainer’s table, where he’d hoped to sleep it off, and into the bullpen in the eighth inning, when he began to warm up.
I think that wording is a bit off. He didn’t suffer the stomach ailment before he took the ball. Anyone who’s had a stomach bug — and that’s everybody here — knows it doesn’t just go away. They don’t call it a 24-hour bug for nothing. Mo pitched anyway, and we all saw the results.
Why didn’t we hear about this before? Because Mo refused to make it an excuse. Not even after his success on Sunday did he mention his Saturday ailment. This is the kind of professionalism we’ve come to expect of Mo. He never says no when the manager comes calling, even if he’s just upchucked his lunch. True, it cost the Yanks on Saturday (when Phil Hughes could have just as easily pitched), but in the long run it’s an admirable trait, I think, to take the ball when asked and not make excuses afterward.