I watched the end of the game last night by myself. The wife had gone to bed long before Mariano Rivera appeared. I lay on the living room floor, stretching, and appreciated the moment–another chance to watch Rivera pitch. Endy Chavez, a slap-hitting left-hander, led off and Rivera pounded him with cutters inside. Chavez was tough, fouling off pitch-after-pitch, until he was caught looking by a pitch on the outside corner. A generous call by the umpire it seemed to me, a Rivera call.
J.J. Hardy, a righty, was next, and when Rivera got ahead of him he kept the ball outside and Hardy popped up to Robinson Cano for the second out. Which left it up to Nick Markakis, who was 6-17 in his career against Rivera. He looked at a fastball on the outside part of the plate for a strike and then broke his bat on a cutter inside–the ball went foul. Rivera threw another cutter, high and inside, that Markakis didn’t offer at and he also looked at the next pitch, the outside fastball. The pitch went straight to the catcher’s mitt but it was just outside for a ball.
I was lying on my back now. My cat had curled up next to my left shoulder and I wondered what Rivera’s next move would be–back inside with the cutter or double-up on the outside pitch? He went back outside, painted the corner beautifully. The pitch was better than the one before. Markakis didn’t swing and was called out on strikes and alone in my dark living room I laughed so hard that had to cover my mouth so I wouldn’t wake the wife.
[Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images; Drawing by Moebius]