Mariano Rivera ties MLB saves mark

Updated: September 17, 2011, 7:22 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

TORONTO -- Only one Mo save to go.

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera joined former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman in the exclusive 601 club Saturday afternoon, nailing down the final three outs of the Yankees' come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Blue Jays. He now needs just one more save to become the most prolific closer in baseball history.

"It's a great number, but the most important thing is, we won the game," said Rivera, whose wife and two of his three sons had travelled to Toronto to witness the accomplishment.

He did it in typical Mo fashion, catching Colby Rasmus looking at a 2-2 cutter on the outside corner for the first out, splintering Brett Lawrie's bat for the second out and getting Eric Thames to fly out harmlessly to center to end the game.

"It's pretty much what Mo's done his whole career," manager Joe Girardi said. "What more can you say about Mo?"

Curtis Granderson, who caught the final out in center field, flipped Rivera the ball, but unlike the joyous exchange of on-field hugs with all his teammates after getting No. 600 Wednesday in Seattle, this celebration was more subdued, with Rivera calmly walking a handshake line before heading for a postgame sideline interview.

"Today was a big save but also a big win that we needed," said Alex Rodriguez, whose sixth-inning three-run home run in his return to the lineup sparked the Yankees comeback from a 6-1 deficit after a poor outing by Bartolo Colon. "Mo's awesome. You just run out of things to say about him. Every save he's had in his career has pretty much meant something and today was another example of that."

An inning after A-Rod's homer, Granderson delivered the the eventual game winner, a two-run shot to left-center that gave him 40 home runs and 113 RBIs for the season and the Yankees their first and only lead of the day.

But the biggest accomplishment of the day belonged to Rivera, whose 42nd save of the season not only matched the number on his back -- he will be the last player in baseball to wear the now-retired number of Jackie Robinson -- and the number of career postseason saves he has notched in his 17 major-league seasons, it also nearly matched his age; Rivera will turn 42 on November 29.

"To me, it was normal," he said. "Just another ho-hum save."

Overall, Rivera's record is 1-2, his ERA 2.05. And with one more save, he will sit alone atop the list of baseball's all-time closers with 602.

"That ball's definitely gonna be in a special place," he said.

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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