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 the final days of the regular season.
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.
It was just like old times.
Sure, the Yankees hadn't won a World Series in nine years, and they hadn't won an American League crown in six. But Game 6 of the 2009 AL Championship Series -- in which Andy Pettitte got the victory and Mariano Rivera picked up the save -- made it feel like the Yanks had never missed a beat.
All series long, Rivera was his usual postseason self -- dominant as ever in recording a pair of saves and allowing just one run in seven innings.
Rivera entered in the eighth inning of a 3-1 ballgame and promptly surrendered the only run he'd allow all postseason on a Vladimir Guerrero RBI single, capping an eight-pitch at-bat.
But that was the only damage the Angels would do against the legendary closer.
The Yankees would tack on a couple more runs in the bottom of the eighth, making Rivera's task a bit easier. A three-run lead in the ninth inning of a postseason clincher? Child's play for Rivera.
Rivera got Howie Kendrick to ground out to first and Juan Rivera to fly out to right, setting the stage for a showdown with Gary Matthews. The Angels' pinch-hitter managed to work the count full, before Rivera got him to whiff on a cutter that tailed back toward the outside part of the plate.
You've heard the phrase, "Act like you've been there before." Well, no one's been there more than Rivera. (It was the 14th time he had closed out a playoff series victory.) And perhaps, no one acts like he's been there before better than Rivera, too.
Rivera coolly pumped his fist and walked toward catcher Jorge Posada, breaking into an ear-to-ear smile as the two embraced.
"That was priceless," Rivera said of that brief moment spent with his longtime catcher. "There's nothing better than that."
Just like old times, indeed.