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.
When Mariano Rivera shut the door on the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 30, 2010, it didn't make big news. After all, Rivera doing his job is what's expected.
Over the years, it's been much bigger news when Rivera hasn't done his job. That's the life of a closer, and that's what happened a little more than two weeks later, the next time he faced a save opportunity in the Bronx.
When Rivera served up a go-ahead grand slam to the Twins' Jason Kubel in the eighth inning on May 16, it snapped the Yankees closer's streak of 51 consecutive save conversions at home. That mark had tied him with Eric Gagne for the all-time record.
"He's human," manager Joe Girardi told reporters afterward. "He showed that he's human today."
It's often been easy to forget that over the years.
By the time Kubel hit his blast, it had been more than two calendar years since a Yankee Stadium crowd had seen Rivera blow a save. It previously happened on Aug. 13, 2007, against the Orioles.
In between, Rivera pitched 49 2/3 innings in his save opportunities and allowed four runs (for a 0.72 ERA) on 28 hits, with seven walks and 57 strikeouts. He never allowed more than a single run in one of those games.
Rivera tied Gagne's record -- set between 2002-04 -- in typically dominant fashion. He got Juan Pierre on a soft liner to third, then struck out both Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham.
And of course, after the rare blip a couple of weeks later, Rivera was back to being Rivera. He began another streak at the start of the 2011 season, and that one lasted 41 games before finally ending on July 7 of this year.
That means Rivera now owns two of the five best runs of all-time, joining Gagne, Trevor Hoffman (49) and John Smoltz (47).