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I’m Gonna Be (500 Saves)

Posted By Emma Span On June 29, 2009 @ 4:03 am In Bronx Banter,Emma Span | Comments Disabled

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 [1] 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 [2], 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.

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URLs in this post:

[1] won 4-2: http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=290628121

[2] decoy: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.greenheadgear.com/decoys/duck_decoys_map.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.greenheadgear.com/duck_decoys.html&usg=__HxJvq_aBpy7LUPR7oV0qGeQTFYg=&h=900&w=690&sz=81&hl=en&start=1&sig2=owXitWvZaIq1XqCg6pu8cA&um=1&tbnid=Db5LPh3H6nOwNM:&tbnh=146&tbnw=112&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dduck%2Bdecoys%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1&ei=e2tISpaIOt-JtgeytoikAQ

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