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Mariano working to keep release point consistent

Mariano working to keep release point consistent

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NEW YORK -- Despite being the all-time leader in saves and being in his 19th and final Major League season, Mariano Rivera occasionally still needs to take a look at his mechanics. Even Rivera is susceptible to having them get slightly out of line.

Unfortunately for Rivera and the Yankees, that's cost him three consecutive save opportunities. But it's certainly not anything he's concerned about.

"It's a profession, you know what you're doing," said Rivera, who has 35 saves this season. "That's why I have a pitching coach and a bullpen coach. They tell you what you're doing wrong."

Rivera didn't have the chance to test out any corrections on Monday night. Boone Logan and David Robertson combined to pitch the ninth, with Robertson striking out Chris Nelson with two outs and the bases loaded to earn the save and seal the 2-1 win for the Yankees. Fans chanted, "We want Mo!" during the inning, but this was a night off for New York's closer.

Manager Joe Girardi said he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild decided to give Rivera a breather after a heavy workload in the last week. Rivera has pitched four innings and thrown 81 pitches since Wednesday.

"Mo's never going to back out of a situation," Girardi said. "That's where as a pitching coach or a manager, you have to manage the player and understand sometimes they just need a day whether they want to go out there or not."

After Monday's win over the Angels, Rivera emphasized he feels fine physically and is ready to pitch on Tuesday. This was just a chance to get some rest.

"Nothing's wrong. I threw a few pitches in Chicago and the two outings here," Rivera said. "It was time for Robby to close, which he did good, too. We won the game, which is what matters."

Rivera worked with Rothschild on Monday to make sure he's keeping his release point consistent. It hasn't been in his last three appearances, and it's caused him to leave some pitches up in the strike zone.

In the series finale in Chicago on Wednesday, Rivera allowed an RBI single to White Sox pinch-hitter Adam Dunn that tied the score at 4.

On Friday, Rivera allowed a two-run home run to Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera that tied the game at 3. Then on Sunday, Rivera gave up two solo home runs to Cabrera and Detroit designated hitter Victor Martinez that tied the game at 4.

Even though the Yankees won both games against the Tigers courtesy of Brett Gardner's walk-off heroics, the blown save opportunities still stung.

But Rivera said this happens from time to time. Just like hitters go through slumps, pitchers -- even those with 643 career saves -- hit rough patches over the course of a season.

So Rivera worked to hammer out his release-point issue. Rivera said he lets Rothschild look at the film, and he'll make the necessary correction on the mound.

"I have to keep working," Rivera said. "You can't stop. You stop when you finish."

Anytime Rivera falters, it comes as a surprise. He's been so consistent and so dominant throughout his career, he's seemingly automatic on the mound.

But there's no way Rivera's concerned about one rocky stretch during a long season.

"When it happens, everything is magnified," Rivera said. "This happens, that's the beauty of it. It always keeps me humble."

Josh Vitale and Chris Iseman are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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