|1.||Harry Brecheen||3||32 2/3||0.83|
|3.||Sherry Smith||3||30 1/3||0.89|
|5.||Monte Pearson||4||35 2/3||1.01|
|6.||Christy Mathewson||12||101 2/3||1.06|
|7.||Mariano Rivera||4||33 2/3||1.07|
"We thought we'd give Mo a chance to finish it out," Girardi said.Rivera did, and needed only one hand to count the number of pitches to do so. Stairs' 0-2 groundout and a second-pitch popout by Jimmy Rollins got the job done. It wasn't a save situation, but it might as well have been, as Rivera saved the rest of his 'pen mates from having to do what he makes so automatic at this time of the year. "I never think that [I might have a night] off, especially in the playoffs," Rivera said. "It's the playoffs. You have to do what you have to do." "He really was the same as he was when he pitched two [innings]," added catcher Jorge Posada. Rivera's efficiency in getting those last two outs could be critical. Though Girardi seems to have no hesitation to maximize the use of his closer, the fact that Rivera hardly labored on Saturday puts him in pretty good position to be available for a multi-inning save in Games 4 or 5, should his services be needed.
Coming up clutch
|Year||Opp.||Gm 3 res.||Series res.|
|2009||PHI||W on road||????|
|2003||FLA||W on road||L in 6|
|1977||LA||W on road||W in 6|
|1964||STL||W at home||L in 7|
|1962||SF||W at home||W in 7|
|1961||CIN||W on road||W in 5|
|1960||PIT||W at home||L in 7|
|1957||MIL||W on road||L in 7|
|1952||BRO||L at home||W in 7|
|1951||NYG||L on road||W in 6|
|1949||BRO||W on road||W in 5|
|1943||STL||W at home||W in 5|
|1942||STL||L at home||L in 5|
|1941||BRO||W on road||W in 5|
|1936||NYG||W at home||W in 6|
|1926||STL||L on road||L in 7|
|1923||NYG||L at home||W in 6|
Sure, in an ideal world, the Yankees get the win in Game 3 and Rivera never gets up off the bullpen bench. But we're working in reality, which often means that championships hinge on closers and that the Yankees ride Rivera."I'm feeling good," Rivera said, putting to rest any concern that his back-to-back outings could affect his availability on Sunday. As imperative as Rivera's efficiency might have been in preserving his arm, what his 'pen mates did to bridge the gap from Andy Pettitte's so-so six-inning start to the closer's appearance proved to a horde of naysayers that maybe the Yankees' bullpen doesn't have to be all that much of a liability after all.
Remember how those middle relievers were, of course, the team's Achilles' heel? Well, that was before Joba Chamberlain sent down Philadelphia's top three hitters in order in the seventh."I didn't see the velocity, but the location was awesome," Posada said of the right-hander. And that was before Damaso Marte struck out two while facing the minimum an inning later. "I feel good," Marte said. "[Girardi's] giving me the chance to show how good I am, and I'm going to give it all on the field." Yes, Hughes had a hiccup in the ninth when he allowed Ruiz to go deep. But the sequence was otherwise flawless. "Those guys did tremendous, even Phil," Rivera said. "All those guys did tremendous." The Yankees' offense is unquestionably legit, evidenced most recently by Saturday's three-homer effort. Their core starters have the pedigree to be downright dominant. And now with the bullpen having steadied for a night and Rivera continuing to show that he'll be every bit the anchor that he's always been in the postseason, New York's series advantage may actually be insurmountable.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.