"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

I’m Gonna Be (500 Saves)

Man, I wish I’d been there in person for this one.

“I just wanna do my job and let someone else talk about myself,” said Mariano Rivera after his 500th career save and first-ever RBI. Happy to oblige.

The Yankees won 4-2 tonight, and though they probably should have scored more – given that the Mets handed them nine walks and an error in the last four innings alone – it ended on a high note, so I won’t be complaining, or even bothering to question the questionable moves from Joe Girardi tonight (I’m sure a few  commenters will be happy to pick up my slack).

The Mets were patching things together pretty well for a while there, considering three of their four best hitters are out of the picture, and that the roles of John Maine and Ollie Perez are being played by Tim Redding and tonight’s starter, Livan Hernandez, the oldest 34-year-old in the game. Hernandez was not half bad tonight, in fact, and I enjoy watching his smoke and mirrors, but it wasn’t enough – at the moment the Mets’ lineup is too depleted, and their defense too sloppy. Meanwhile the Yankees seem to be getting their act together, though only time will tell. The end result was a three-game sweep, and to add insult to injury, tonight’s insurance run came courtesy of the fearsome plate discipline of Mariano Rivera, in his third career at-bad.

The Yankees scored three in the first inning, thanks in large part to yet more defensive blundering from the Mets. Derek Jeter doubled, and Nick Swisher hit into a fielder’s choice, but the fielder chose poorly. Mark Teixeira doubled, and eventually Jorge Posada got him home with a sacrifice fly. That was all the Yankees could muster, dispite numerous opportunities, until Mo’s appearance in the ninth.

Chien-Ming Wang, abetted by some nifty fielding, gave up two runs in the second but kept his cool and held on into the sixth. Phils Coke and Hughes were excellent again in relief, but Brian Bruney was not, prompting Rivera to make another 8th inning appearance. You know, every year since 2006 or so, Torre and Girardi have claimed they aren’t going to do that, and they always do anyway – not that I blame them for changing their minds. How could you resist? If I were a manager (god forbid) and I had Mariano Rivera at my disposal, I imagine my hand would start twitching towards the bullpen phone sometime around the third inning most nights.

In the top of the ninth, the Yankees tried to use Francisco Cervelli as a pinch-hitting decoy, but it was clear that Rivera was never coming out of a 3-2 game in the ninth inning. Mo limbered up and rolled his shoulders as he walked to the plate with – of course – the bases loaded, facing Francisco Rodriguez with two outs. If you have to have a pitcher up in that spot, I guess at least you want to have a guy who doesn’t rattle.

I think Mariano Rivera’s at-bats may be the most thoroughly entertained I have ever seen a Yankee dugout. Anyway, thecoaches presumably told Mo not to swing again, but he had no intention of following that advice this time, either. He took one very healthy hack on a 2-2 count and fouled the pitch back – but other than that he laid off, working the count full and then, remarkably, walking.

Be nice to your Mets fan friends tomorrow, gang. They’ve been through enough already.

Rivera closed out the game afterwards with a minimum of fuss for his 500th save, and while I think most everyone reading the Banter would agree that the save is a deeply flawed statistic, this is really just another opportunity to reflect on how freakishly awesome Mariano has been, is now, and hopefully will continue to be – for at least a  while longer. You can’t really overhype Mo, and that’s saying something.

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Emma Span

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1 PJ   ~  Jun 29, 2009 7:30 am

[0] "Be nice to your Mets fan friends tomorrow, gang. They’ve been through enough already."

"Screw 'em." - Jennifer Grey as Jeanie Bueller in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

Hopefully, the Yankees can get rid of all this flu business and continue to represent themselves in a proper winning fashion from tomorrow through the All Star Break.

I'm quite grateful for the 6-3 road trip and most everyone's relatively good health, including Mo's!

: )

2 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jun 29, 2009 8:44 am

The morning's signal of the Power of the Banter, as I skim the last few of the game thread last night is this:

our 500th message of the night celebrated Mo's 500th save.

You can look it up.

The rbi walk was a joy and a delight, so was the inside K on the 3rd out of the 8th. The fake pinch hitter (The Mighty Cervelli!) was hilarious actually, I had no trouble with Girardi doing it, it felt like kids goofing around - though I don't actually see Girardi as a goof, maybe goofing up.

WE were handed a scheduling gift here, a truly battered Mets team, injured AND playing sloppily, but you have to win when you get those breaks and they did. I admit I am watching the wildcard alignment already, as much as I track the Bosox. Tampa/Texas are the other 'make them lose' targets. Rays are better, Texas has easier division. I really do think Angels are going to be really good second half, they had an annihilated staff to this point, and are still back in first. I have a hunch they'll buy a major player in next 3 weeks and cruise in the west.

I also think we need to give even more props to AJ last little while: I was not a fan of the signing, and may still end up feeling that way (yo, Cliff!) but he's delivered innings, and good ones.

Finally: would you say A Rod's becoming more of a cheerleader these days? Into it?

3 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 29, 2009 9:32 am

[2] I wouldn't worry about Texas too much, but TB is looking scarier by the game. If they get any kind of bullpen help (Maybe Huston Street), the Yankees will definitely be a fight to the end.

It's really hard to use this series as any kind of barometer. Going into this stretch against the NL Least, I was expecting at least 9-3. Instead, they wound up 7-5. That's not the end of the world, but still an underperformance. Now that the Yankees are back in the AL, it will be interesting to see how they play. These next 13 games leading up to the ASB should give us a better idea about the state of team.

4 a.O   ~  Jun 29, 2009 9:36 am

Mo is the best reliever ever. But what is truly remarkable is that he is an even better man. He makes me proud to be a Yankees fan.

5 ms october   ~  Jun 29, 2009 9:49 am

[4] co-sign that ao.

i think mo is one of those just truly, genuinely good people. and of course the best reliever ever.

[3] i agree with that too william. should be an interesting 2nd half.
pretty simple - yanks need to continue getting good starting performances and scoring runs.

6 Rich   ~  Jun 29, 2009 9:55 am

[5] ...yanks need to continue getting good starting performances and scoring runs.

All the more reason that Hughes needs to be in the rotation, ms o.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 29, 2009 10:05 am

How's this for an oddity: In every game that Brett Gardner has homered (3) he has also tripled. Derek Jeter has three such games in his career.

8 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 29, 2009 10:06 am

Can we start working on Mo's monument for the "Cave" yet?

9 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 29, 2009 10:10 am


Cool ...

I did some checking, since 1954, Barry Bonds is the career leader for such games, with 17 ... but here's something really cool ... Pops Stargell had 13.

(can't imagine Willie lumbering around the bases, but I guess he had some wheels in his early OF days)


10 RIYank   ~  Jun 29, 2009 12:42 pm

[1] PJ, odd coincidence: I had never seen that movie, for some reason, and then I watched it on the plane two days ago.
If A-Rod starts dating Jennifer, that will be more evidence that he reads Bronx Banter.

11 thelarmis   ~  Jun 29, 2009 1:57 pm

"Mariano Rivera, in his third career at-bad."

typo?! ; )

i agree that Tampon is scary and creeping up. we best take care of Toronto later this week...

12 PJ   ~  Jun 29, 2009 2:40 pm

[10] I like that movie RIY, if for no other reason that it grants a tour of Chicago via a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California. To me that movie would be entertaining on the trip across the Atlantic.

I don't think A-Rod can read. He has "his people" do that...

I bet he can count, though!

: )

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver