CLEVELAND -- What Andy Pettitte starts, Mariano Rivera finishes. It's a time-tested relationship that has paid huge dividends for the New York Yankees, and now, no one has done it more often.
Rivera recorded the final three outs of the Yankees' 3-1 victory over the Indians on Friday at Progressive Field, securing Pettitte's fifth victory of the season. It marked Rivera's 58th career save in games won by Pettitte, setting a new Major League record.
"It means we are old," Rivera said. "We've been playing together for a long time, that's what it means. It's great. I think nobody deserves that more than Andy. He's been a big guy for us, and I'm glad that I just follow and try to do my job."
"It's incredible what those two have done together," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, you have to be really good and you have to play together a long time. They've been able to do both of those things."
The previous mark of 57 saves was held by Dennis Eckersley, who preserved those for Bob Welch while both were in the uniform of the Oakland A's. Now, the mark belongs to Pettitte and Rivera, who own the highest total since the save became an official statistic in 1969.
"It's awesome. He's awesome," Pettitte said. "What can you say? I feel honored to have been able to play with him for as long as I have. He's a tremendous person and a tremendous baseball player."
Rivera has secured 492 saves in the big leagues, and Pettitte has been around to witness most of them, save for a three-year absence when he left New York to pitch for the Houston Astros.
Nearly two decades later, Pettitte said he never could have envisioned that his skinny instructional league teammate from Panama would ever be standing alongside him in a clubhouse in Cleveland, talking about how they had made for such a devastating one-two combo.
"When we came up, he was a starter," Pettitte said. "He was one of the guys in the rotation; maybe he'd be in the rotation and maybe he wouldn't. Hopefully, we could pitch together one day up here in the starting rotation, and he ends up in the bullpen.
"Even the first few years, he was a guy that I thought -- just like everyone else -- this guy is going to have to come up with another pitch, or he's not going to have to be able to stick around here, you know? Here we are, and he's the greatest closer ever with one pitch. It's absolutely amazing."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.