Thursday, April 12, 2012


Rivera in the 10th in Baltimore

Yahoo front page Thursday morning, 4/12/12, "How does a 42-year-old find himself pitching on three straight cold April nights? Because the Yankees needed him."

4/12/12, "Mariano Rivera answers the call again for Yankees," Les Carpenter, Yahoo Sports

Final in 10 innings v Orioles, 6-4 Yankees. both photos getty.


4/12/12, "Mariano Rivera answers the call again for Yankees," Les Carpenter, Yahoo Sports

"Late Wednesday night the New York Yankees called for Mariano Rivera again. And diligently he trotted from the bullpen into another game that needed to be finished. It was the third straight night the Yankees asked him to do this and given the value of a great closer's arm, especially one 42 years old, three nights is a lot. Especially in an early April chill.

But the Yankees were feeling desperate so early in this season. Their two previous games had been long, strenuous affairs that taxed their bullpen.

"We were in a bind," New York manager Joe Girardi later said. "He said he could go."

Typical Rivera. He always says he can go. The temptation is to think he will be here forever, that age means nothing and he will fling 91-mph cut fastballs past hitters half his age for another decade. On Wednesday, Matt Wieters, the Baltimore Orioles' 25-year-old catcher, waved feebly at a Rivera fastball, becoming the 1,116th strikeout victim of Rivera's career. A few minutes later he had dispatched of the Orioles and another Yankees win – the 605th saved by Rivera in his 18-year career – was complete.

"He has tomorrow off," Girardi said.

It was a joke because the Yankees do not play Thursday. And the manager smiled at his humor. Yet somehow you could imagine that if the Yankees were playing and found themselves facing a late-game dilemma that Girardi would at least consider the possibility of using Rivera. That's how automatic he's been.

This seems a more vulnerable Yankees team than many in recent years. The clubhouse is loaded with players who would have been the beginning of a magnificent All-Star team in 2003 – Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, Freddy Garcia, CC Sabathia and Derek Jeter. None of their starting pitchers have overwhelmed in their first outings. Andy Pettitte is coming back at some point, but if the Yankees have to rely upon Pettitte, who had been comfortably retired until a few weeks ago, then they are in more trouble than anyone imagined.

Which is why Rivera matters so much. He brings calm. No matter how much insanity swirls around the Yankees, he hardly seems to notice, staring serenely at the catcher then flinging his cut fastball. Nothing changes.

As a child, fellow reliever Cory Wade used to watch Rivera pitch. Never in those years could Wade have imagined he'd one day be sitting beside him in the Yankees bullpen. It was impossible. Rivera would simply be too old. He'd have retired. Instead, Wade watches him go through his routine, the same one all the time: stretching, warming up, then nodding when the phone rings and the manager is asking

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