Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Updated: May 27, 9:10 AM ET
Mariano Rivera in 1,000th game
By Ian Begley
NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera has the most postseason saves in baseball history. The New York Yankees closer also has more World Series saves than any other reliever.
On Wednesday, the seemingly ageless Rivera added another record to his resume.
Rivera made his 1,000 career appearance against the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the first pitcher to reach the 1,000-appearance plateau with one team. He is the 15th pitcher in major league history to appear in 1,000 games.
"It's a blessing to be able to be on the same team and do that. It's not too often you see that. But the most important thing is that we won," Rivera said after retiring the side in the ninth inning of the Yankees' 7-3 win over Toronto.
After the game, the always-humble Rivera admitted that he was "surprised" by the accomplishment.
"It is because you've got to have the right combination. The organization you're with (has to be) willing to keep you and you've got to do the job and take care of yourself. All of that has to be in place," the 16-year veteran said.
Trevor Hoffman is second for most appearances with one team. He had 902 of his 1,035 games with San Diego, according to STATS LLC.
With two more appearances, Rivera, 41, will tie "Goose" Gossage for 14th place on the all-time appearances list. Jesse Orosco is first with 1,252 appearances.
Rivera made his first major league appearance on May 23, 1995, against the Angels. He struggled, allowing five runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. He made his first relief appearance on Aug. 1 of that season and blew the save against Milwaukee.
It was not a sign of things to come.
Rivera started throwing his vaunted cut fastball 10 appearances into his rookie season and won his postseason debut in Game 2 of the ALDS against Seattle that year. Since tossing 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief that cold October night, Rivera has established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in postseason history.
Rivera has won five World Series with the Yankees and has appeared in the postseason 15 times. He has a record 42 career saves in the playoffs -- 11 of which came in the World Series. He owns a 0.71 ERA in 94 postseason games, the lowest playoff ERA of all time for pitchers with at least 30 innings. He also has 14 career two-inning playoff saves.
"It just shows you, tells you how great he is at his trade," manager Joe Girardi said.
Girardi recalled on Wednesday the first time he caught Rivera in 1996.
"I had to catch him in the bullpen and I'm like, 'Who's this kid?'" Girardi said. "His stuff was electric. He was throwing 97 (mph), throwing it wherever he wanted to. He could cut, he could elevate. I'd never even heard of him."
Sixteen years and 1,000 appearances later, Girardi and the rest of the baseball world know exactly who Rivera is.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.