11/05/09 2:55 AM EST
Fitting finishing touch by Mariano
Yankees knew title was theirs when Mo exited bullpen door
By Brittany Ghiroli / Special to MLB.com
And as closer Mariano Rivera came trotting out of the bullpen in short, understated strides, there was only one thought coursing through Jeter's mind: It's over.
"That's it," Jeter said. "It's over. It's the same feeling you have every single time he comes out of the bullpen."
With his black glove safely tucked into his right hand, Rivera joined the group of infielders surrounding the mound with the Yankees up, 7-3, and five outs away from seizing a World Series title from the defending-champion Phillies.
And as the record-setting crowd of 50,315 got to its feet -- proudly holding signs reading "Mo Town" and "We Save the Best for Last" -- Rivera put the finishing touches on the Yankees' Game 6 World Series-clinching win with the same dominance that has made the 14-year veteran a baseball legend.
"He's human; he's going to give up some runs here and there," Jeter said. "But a four-run lead? C'mon, man. We could have gone and played another nine innings."
And statistically speaking, Jeter's right. The Yankees are 203-1 all-time when Rivera pitches with a four-run lead.
Rivera's 1 2/3 scoreless innings on Wednesday night extend his World Series scoreless streak to 9 1/3 frames. In 11 postseason appearances this year, Rivera didn't blow a single save and allowed just one run, which came from the Angels in the American League Championship Series.
|1.||Harry Brecheen||3||32 2/3||0.83|
|3.||Sherry Smith||3||30 1/3||0.89|
|5.||Mariano Rivera||4||36 1/3||0.99|
|6.||Monte Pearson||4||35 2/3||1.01|
|7.||Christy Mathewson||12||101 2/3||1.06|
The All-Star closer entered Wednesday's game in place of reliever Damaso Marte and sandwiched a strikeout and a foul popup in between Raul Ibanez's double to end the eighth inning.
With equal parts adrenaline and emotion, Rivera admitted he used every bone in his body to try to scale back the excitement in what would be his fourth and final World Series appearance. After issuing a one-out walk to Carlos Ruiz, Rivera induced a flyout from Jimmy Rollins. As soon as Shane Victorino connected for a ground ball to second base, the Yankees' dugout emptied onto Rivera, just seconds after Robinson Cano made it official with a throw to first baseman Mark Teixeira.
"I mean, that's what you want to get to," a champagne-soaked Alex Rodriguez said of the moment the bullpen door swung open for No. 42. "Mo is obviously the greatest."
And he needed to be on Wednesday night, as Rivera tossed a personal World Series-high 41 pitches to seal New York's 27th World Series championship.
"I can't be happier than what I am right now with this special team that we have," Rivera said. "We worked hard for this one."
Rivera's 5 1/3 scoreless innings in the World Series lowered his career Fall Classic ERA to 0.99. The 39-year-old closer has been the finishing pitcher in the final game in each of the Yankees' past six World Series appearances and in 14 overall playoff series.
Wednesday marked the fourth time in Rivera's storied career that he was on the mound in the final game of all three of the Yankees' postseason series.
"It's indescribable," Rivera said of his fifth World Series ring.
Just then, several Yankees began to chant "Mo" and pour champagne on their beloved teammate.
"I think tomorrow I will feel it," he said. " [I will] sit down and say, 'You know what? We won.' And I thank God for that."
But on Wednesday night, like so many nights prior, the Yankees thanked God for Rivera.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.