Rivera's six-out save paves way to third straight title

Rivera's six-out save paves way to third straight title

Rivera's six-out save paves way to third straight title

As Mariano Rivera prepares to retire, the closer's farewell tour has become a central subplot to the season. Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader has been greeted warmly in each of his road stops, and the Yankees are planning a ceremony of their own to honor Rivera's illustrious career in September.

Rivera will be the last active player to regularly wear uniform No. 42, with the number having been retired throughout MLB in 1997 to honor the achievements of barrier-breaking great Jackie Robinson. During his 19-year big league career, Rivera has also chiseled his own mark on the number's legacy. In honor of Rivera and his contributions, MLB.com is commemorating 42 notable moments from Rivera's career -- the 42 Days of Mo.

The general wisdom around the Yankees for the past 17 years or so has been this: Take a lead into the ninth inning by whatever means necessary, and Mariano Rivera will handle it from there.

Particularly in the postseason, however, Rivera has proven to New York that his dominance extends beyond the ninth.

Consider that 31 of Rivera's 42 postseason saves have required him to record at least four outs, and nine of those have come in the World Series. He owns more two-inning saves in the playoffs (14, including four in the World Series) than all but two closers in Major League history (Brad Lidge, 18, and Dennis Eckersley, 15) have postseason saves, period.

For a classic example of Rivera picking up extra work in October like it was nothing out of the ordinary, think back to Oct. 25, 2000, Game 4 of the World Series -- the "Subway Series" between the Yankees and Mets -- at Shea Stadium.

The Mets entered the night with a chance to even the series at 2-2, while the Yankees were looking to put themselves one step closer to a third straight championship.

The Yankees used four pitchers to get the game to the eighth inning: Denny Neagle, David Cone, Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton -- then in came Rivera, looking for the six-out save in a one-run game.

"Joe Torre wasn't taking any chances," Mets outfielder Jay Payton said, according to The New York Times. "They were counting on Rivera not giving up a run."

And, of course, he delivered.

Rivera gave up a single in the bottom of the eighth, but nothing more. He came back out for the ninth, striking out Benny Agbayani and inducing a flyout from Payton before freezing Matt Franco for the game's final out.

It was Rivera's sixth World Series save, which tied him with Rollie Fingers for the all-time lead. Rivera would go on to claim the record for himself the next night, shutting down the Mets in the ninth inning for his second save of the 2000 World Series.

"I was stronger in the ninth than I was in the eighth," Rivera said at the time, according to The Associated Press. "You have to give everything you have in that situation. Nelson, Stanton and myself are happy with what we are doing and we are doing what we have to to win."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.