Rivera had been present for all of the club's playoff appearances from 1995 -- when he was in then-manager Buck Showalter's stable of relievers for an American League Division Series loss to the Mariners -- through 2011, before being marked absent from the Yankees' 7-2 win over the Orioles in Monday's Game 1 of the ALDS.
"I don't say it's weird, because it's been such a long time since he was injured," said Yankees reliever David Robertson, who recorded the final out on Monday. "I don't want to say we forgot him, either, but you're not seeing him every day, so it's not fresh on your mind like it used to be. If we go and finish off the [World] Series, it's going to be strange not seeing No. 42 finish off the game."
Rivera's Major League-record 42 postseason saves should be evidence enough of his impact, but consider this fact: Thanks to the club's long title drought of the 1980s and early '90s, this is the first Yankees postseason appearance since 1981 -- when Goose Gossage paced the club with 20 saves -- that Rivera hasn't been on the roster.
"It's going to be hard for anyone ever to match Mo's numbers over a long period of time, with all the postseasons that he's had, with all the saves that he's had," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But it doesn't mean that someone can't match it for a season."
And thus, though Rivera's absence may be noticed throughout the playoffs, the Yankees have confidence that Rafael Soriano will be able to fill the all-time saves leader's shoes this month, coming off a regular season in which he converted 42 of 46 save opportunities.
Soriano wasn't needed behind CC Sabathia's 8 2/3 innings of two-run ball on Monday, but he almost certainly will be as the series progresses. Soriano has received advice from Rivera all year long, but his postseason experience is limited to just 7 2/3 innings with the Rays and Yankees in 2010 and '11.
"Same thing -- we feel like the game is over when he comes in," Robertson said. "It's the same thing as Mo. You're not going to win them all -- occasionally one is going to slip through your fingers -- but for the most part, you get the lead to the late innings, let's finish it and go for it."
Rivera did not accompany the Yankees to Baltimore. Girardi said that the Yankees expect Rivera to be in attendance for the club's postseason games at Yankee Stadium, beginning with Wednesday's Game 3 of the ALDS.