Mo sets all-time saves record in win over Twins

Forbes: Minority investment values Yanks at $1.7 billion
Baseball Prospectus on the 1996 Yankees

The save statistic is grossly overrated in today’s game, but Mariano Rivera is not. The greatest reliever in the history of baseball made some more history on an otherwise nondescript Monday afternoon in the Bronx, passing Trevor Hoffman for sole possession of the game’s career save record. Everything else seems like an afterthought.


Fast forward to the end, when the Yankees were nursing a 6-4 lead and the crowd was still buzzing from Nick Swisher‘s inning-ending double play ball in the eighth. I’ve never seen the fans get so excited for a blown scoring opportunity, but Swisher’s failure to come through preserved the save situation. Enter Sandman began to play, and the cheers grew even louder.

The first batter was Trevor Plouffe, who had the gall to take the first two pitches for balls. The third pitch was a cutter on the outside corner for a called strike, the fourth pitch another cutter that generated a swing and a miss. The fifth pitch was (of course) a cutter, one that Plouffe grounded harmlessly to second for the first. Michael Cuddyer, the only legitimate hitter in Minnesota’s lineup, worked the count to 2-2 before flying out to right on a broken bat. That was two outs. The third batters was Chris Parmelee, who spend the entire season in Double-A. A first pitch cutter was down the middle for strike one. The second cutter was fouled back. The third was vintage Rivera, a cutter down and away for a called strike three. Game over, let’s go home.

The team swarmed Rivera on the field after the final out, but eventually Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez pushed him out to the mound so he could wave to the fans. Mo stood on the same mound he’s stood on countless times before, with all eyes on him like they have been so many times, but for what seemed like the first time ever, he soaked it all in. Rivera waved to the crowd, waved to the Twins players and staff that remained in the dugout and applauded, waved to his family, waves to some more fans. The consummate team-first player was enjoying an individual moment, and quite frankly he looked awkward. Like he didn’t want the attention, like a man who had just done his job and wanted to go home.

We can argue Rivera’s place in Yankees history for hours on end, but this is no place to do it. I don’t know if he’s a greater Yankee than Joe DiMaggio or Yogi Berra, or more valuable to the dynasty than Derek Jeter, but I do know one thing: I’ve never any athlete in any sport dominate his position as thoroughly and for as long as Rivera has dominated the closer’s role. There might someone else like him down the road, but I’m pretty comfortable in saying that I’ll never forget how I feel whenever Rivera is on the mound. The most chaotic spots imaginable, and yet there was this calm figure on the mound, raised above everyone else on the field, just like it should be. He is simply on another level.


If there’s one good thing that came out of A.J. Burnett‘s start, it’s that he basically pitched himself out of having any chance at making the postseason rotation. He finished off his last start with six strikeouts in three innings and started this one with seven strikeouts in three innings, but don’t be fooled, he’s still awful. After whiffing seven of the first dozen Twins he faced on Monday, seven of the next ten reach base. Two of those seven were homers, and overall, Burnett allowed four runs on nine hits and a walk in just four innings against a Triple-A lineup (more on that in a bit). Eight strikeouts are great, but nothing else is. Believe it or not, A.J. now has a higher ERA (5.28) than he did last year (5.26). Impressive.


(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Oh yeah, the offense. Curtis Granderson started things off with a two-run homer in the first inning, then the Yankees tacked on another run in the second thanks to a Russell Martin single. Robinson Cano tripled home a run in the third, and then Swisher singled in Cano one batter later to make it 5-0. Alex Rodriguez’s run-scoring single in the sixth gave the team an insurance run. The pitching was the story of the game, for better and for worse, so it’s kinda easy to forget the offense.

The bullpen between Burnett and Mo was solid. Cory Wade, who’s been shaky of late, allowed three hits and a walk in 1.1 IP, striking out Joe Benson and Rene Rivera with the bases loaded to end the fifth. Boone Logan got the only man he faced, then Rafael Soriano and David Robertson sat down all six men they faced before Rivera made history.

Aside from 602, Regis Philbin was pretty much the highlight of the game, the best half-inning from the booth all season. He poked fun at Michael Kay (“how do you go from Fordham to The Post?”), Suzyn Waldman and John Sterling (“could they sit any further apart?”), and was just all around entertaining. We should all be lucky enough to have that much life and energy at 80.

This game was originally scheduled for April 6th, the Yankees fifth game of the season and what would have been Freddy Garcia’s first start. Here’s the lineup Minnesota was going to use that day

  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B
  3. Joe Mauer, C
  4. Justin Morneau, 1B
  5. Jim Thome, DH
  6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
  7. Jason Kubel, LF
  8. Danny Valencia, 3B
  9. Alexi Casilla, SS

Now here’s the lineup they ran out there on Monday…

  1. Ben Revere, CF
  2. Trevor Plouffe, SS
  3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
  4. Chris Parmelee, 1B
  5. Danny Valencia, DH
  6. Brian Dinkelman, RF
  7. Luke Hughes, 3B
  8. Joe Benson, LF
  9. Rene Rivera, C

Yeah, that’s some difference. It must really suck being a Twins fan right now.

The Rays were off on Monday, so the Yankees increased their lead in the wildcard by half-a-game to seven games. The magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to just four. The Red Sox split their doubleheader with the Orioles, so the lead in the division increased to a full five games in the loss column with ten to play.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings has the box score and video, FanGraphs some other stuff, and ESPN the updated standings.

Up Next

The Twins were only here for the one-day makeup, so they’re off to Minnesota and the Rays are coming to town for four-games in three days. It’s an enormous series for Tampa, and probably a four out of ten on the importance scale for New York. Ivan Nova kicks things off against Wade Davis on Tuesday night. If you want to catch the game, RAB Tickets can get you there.

Forbes: Minority investment values Yanks at $1.7 billion
Baseball Prospectus on the 1996 Yankees
  • Stratman9652

    Love the slight jab at Brain Wilson around 13 minutes. “I can’t fool any hitter I have no muscles, no beard… just the tools God has given me.”

  • teddy

    so mo congrats Murti on his first day, after his milestone, says what you need to know about mo

  • Jesse

    The save statistic may be overrated, but I still like it, and not just because Mo has the all time record.

  • Avi

    Congrats Mo, you’re the greatest!

  • Brooklyn Ed

    MO: I’m glad that Swisher hitted into a double play ….awesome line!!

  • Avi

    “The save statistic is grossly overrated in today’s game, but Mariano Rivera is not.”

    Spot on.

  • Avi

    I don’t know about you but I want to see the Yanks put their F lineup against Tampa. You know, like Aaron Laffey playing SS and batting cleanup.

    • Pat D

      Let them win two games first, then they can go do that.

      • JAG

        I think the point is, he’s hoping the Yankees basically throw the games against the Rays in anticipation of the Red Sox continuing to collapse and helping the Rays oust them from the postseason. As much fun as that would be, I don’t think it’s justified when the Yankees have not clinched yet. Now, if the Yankees play the Rays for real and win 2-of-3, and then in the final series the Rays are still in it and the Yankees have clinched, I’m all for seeing how the AAA kids do and giving the finger to the Red Sox.

    • hogsmog

      I mean, doesn’t this let Sox fans say we are ‘afraid to face them in the postseason because of 2004 2004 2000000000444444!!!’?

      I want Sox fans to have the fewest opportunities as possible to say this. It would be much more satisfying to meet and beat them in the ALCS.

  • mbonzo

    Was at the game, everyone felt really awkward hoping the Yankees didn’t score any runs in the 8th.

    As Mike said, Mo’s value to the team for the last 15 years can be debated with the likes of Dimaggio, Mantle, Gehrig, Ruth, Jeter, etc. but the fact is that he never cheated, he played in the most competitive era, and there is no doubt that he is the greatest relief pitcher of all time. He’s the only baseball player you can call the best of all time at his position without anyone arguing.

    • Jesse

      Save that ticket man!
      Glad you got to see it, I was THIS close to seeing Jeter’s 3000 hit. I was set to see him get his 3000 hit at Wrigley Field (Possibly on my birthday, I went to two games) but of course we all know he had that calf injury.

    • Ted Nelson

      Not to take anything away from Mo, but…

      He was never caught cheating. You can’t be certain he didn’t cheat. Not at all accusing him, but given our knowledge all we can say is that he was never caught.

      His role has also changed immensely in the past several decades. You can’t compare him to players from any era before 1990 or maybe the ’80’s… which makes it a wholly different comparison than other positions.
      I’m also pretty sure you’d get arguments for Goose Gossage and others who played in different eras where the relief and closer roles were different.
      Others would probably argue that he needs to be compared to all pitchers, not just relievers.

      • gc

        This is true. I never thought a guy like Andy Pettitte would have been associated with any type of PED issues, but there you go. I’m not saying Mo has ever done that because I truly believe he hasn’t, but like you said….we really don’t know. And when it comes to guys like Jeter and Mariano, I don’t think we want to know. If, heaven forbid, either one of them should somehow pop up on the “positive list” somewhere for PEDs, it’s going to be an ugly and very sad day in Yankee-land.

  • Kevin D.

    I will do everything in my power to see Mo enshrined into Cooperstown. That is all.

  • BigBlueAL

    Mo is God.

  • D-Rob’s Great Escape

    Mo is amazing and there isn’t a player that i will ever miss as much as Mo when he’s gone.

    The only negative on this day obviously was Burnett and while we all expect that it surprised me that he said this about being pulled out in the 5th from ESPN “Heaven forbid I give up a couple hits,” Burnett griped. Seriously AJ?

    • Kevin

      Lackey in the O’s blowout was just as bad. Those two grand slams the Red Sox got cover up the fact Lackey gave up eight runs.
      As for this being the turning point..they said they last week after the 18-5 rout too.

      • D-Rob’s Great Escape

        Oh no Lackey was and is actually worse then AJ, I don’t know how they even run him out there in important games. I just was surprised at AJ’s “Heaven forbid I give up a couple hits” line after the 4th and start of the 5th how could Giradi not take him out?


    anyone want IPK back?

    • D-Rob’s Great Escape

      Yes, just not for Grandy.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Congrats to Ian

  • Januz

    It really is difficult to pinpoint where Rivera ranks in Top Ten All-Time Yankees, and the position of Relief Pitcher and its value in the overall scheme of things is also difficult to quantify (ie: Where does a closer like Mariano compare with an elite starter like Pedro, Maddox, Randy Johnson, Clemens, Carlton or Seaver? (Let alone the Walter Johnson’s and Lefty Grove’s of the past)). However, it is fair to say, he is the greatest PITCHER in the history of the franchise (He has surpassed Ford, Hoyt, Gomez etc), and being the best ever on a franchise that won more CHAMPIONSHIPS in the History of Professional Sports (Adding to the fact, that Mariano like Jeter, puts Titles above individual numbers), it is a very special honor indeed.

    • Jimmy

      How do you figure Mo has surpassed Whitey Ford as the greatest Yankee pitcher ever? I’m thrilled that the guy has just proved what we’ve known all along: that he is the most consistently dominant closer we’ll ever see in baseball. I love the guy, I always tell my sons that here comes the greatest reliever in baseball history. But he is still just a reliever. Look back at what Ford did for the Yankees and have a little perspective, that’s all.

      • nsalem

        There are many with no interest in perspective. If it didn’t happen yesterday it is not important.

  • D-Rob’s Great Escape

    I missed it last night but AJ also said this: When asked if it was disappointing to not get through the fifth despite being staked to a 5-0 lead, Burnett said: “I didn’t get through the fifth because I wasn’t allowed to get through the fifth. So it wasn’t that I couldn’t get through the fifth.”

    I think we all know he could of gotten through the fifth just not with the lead.

    • Monteroisdinero

      AJ has been given every chance to screw up/implode and he never disappoints.

    • JimIsBored (Jim S)

      For a long time, I didn’t mind his demeanor off the field, but the constant bitching about his treatment is starting to really irritate me.

      Hey, AJ, do you know why you weren’t “allowed” to get through the 5th? Because you sucked against one of the worst lineups in baseball for 4 innings, and Joe didn’t want to see the shitshow continue.

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      Seriously, burnett has not one redeeming quality as a sp. it really sucks because i remember in 2009 having reasonably high hopes. you see flashes of brilliance, but that’s all they are, he will just end up disappointing. i really hope they don’t have to pitch him again this year unless the division is wrapped up.

      i always think that lackey shouldn’t be as bad, but somehow he is even worse, that makes me feel a little better. it really pisses me off that everyone on mlb/espn constantly talks about him being a fighter and keeping the sox in the game, i heard it again last night.

      congrats to the great one

  • well you know

    Regis sounded exactly like the Scooter when they gave him the play-by-play:

    “He struck ’em all out!”

    Too bad that was the highlight for AJ and it was all downhill after that.

  • Tiny Tim

    Mariano Rivera is the greatest pitcher in the history of MLB. AJ Burnett might be the worst. At least Brian Matusz had a sub 5 ERA last year, something AJ hasn’t done the psat 2 seasons. I’m hoping its one or two more starts for that clown and then he’s gone.

  • CountryClub

    The Jeter/Mo embrace was the best part of the celebration (other than Mo getting his moment alone on the mound). Jeter was genuinely happy for him and you could see Mo searching him out while he was hugging other teammates. Pretty awesome that they both came up together and they both hit major milestones in the same season. Here’s to Mo pitching 3 more years and the two of them retiring and going into the HOF together.

  • Justin

    Congrats to Mo, and I’m honestly more impressed the Twins apparently used two right fielders yesterday and no second baseman. Were they just in a permanent Tex shift?

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    so the lead in the division increased to a full five games in the loss column with ten to play.

    The lead increased to five full games, but it’s actually 6 games in the loss column.

    If the Yanks go just 5-5, Boston can win out and still not catch them.

  • Cris Pengiuci

    Nice article on Mo, the history of the save rule and comparison of relievers in different eras. Tries to show how Mo stacks up against the best firemen/closers of all time.