In the wake of Mariano Rivera's incredible escape from a bases-loaded jam in the 10th inning of Wednesday night's 6-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the reminders about his 2001 World Series failure were inevitable.
Rivera, though, was not thinking about 2001. He was thinking about winning the game.
"It’s 2010," Rivera siad. "All I wanted to get was three outs. That definitely wasn’t a factor."
Rivera did what Rivera does best, taking the inning one out at a time. Two pop-ups and a strikeout later, he had earned the win in the Yankees' 6-5 win, sending them into the off-day with a 2 1/2-game lead in the AL East.
"You try to get one at a time. You don’t try to get three outs with one pitch," Rivera said. "You have to be confident that you can make your pitches. Those are the moments where you have to show your character, be patient and make your pitches."
"That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen," Mark Teixeira said. "That’s what Mo does; he comes in there and if you need to close the door, it doesn’t matter what the situation is, he does it."
Rivera never ceases to amaze. He is unflappable, always supremely confident in his ability, never arrogant and almost always successful. He commands more respect from teammates, and opponents, than probably any player I have seen in my lifetime.
We think we understand the greatness of Rivera when we watch him continue to make major-league hitters look silly 15 years after coming to the big leagues. I don't think we will truly understand it until he is gone, though.
Want more on Rivera? Here is a great tribute to No. 42.
- Joe Torre will be in the opposing dugout Friday when the Yankees meet the Los Angeles Dodgers. The former Yankee manager admits that "it's going to be weird for me." Alex Rodriguez, who did not have the best relationship with Torre, does not want to discuss it, saying simply "I'm not going to get into that." Which, probably, is the right thing for A-Rod to do.
- Did anyone else feel sorry for Arizona pitcher Dontrelle Willis Wednesday night? Willis was a terrific, exuberant pitcher whose smile and enthusiasm were great for baseball when he first came into the league. Watching his seven-walk, 2.1-inning performance Wednesday just made me sad. When I wasn't getting mad about the Yankees' ridiculous base-running, that is.