When New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera took the mound at Seattle's Safeco Field last night, he entered to ACDC's Shook Me All Night Long, instead of his traditional entrance song, Enter Sandman from Metallica. Rivera didn't need all night to shake the Seattle Mariners--just two strikeouts and a play at second base. And just like that, the New York Yankees won the game over the Mariners 3-2, and Rivera became the second reliever in the history of Major League Baseball to reach 600 saves.
It's a great number, said a choked-up Rivera. I'm not a guy who looks for things like that.
After the game, Rivera's Yankee teammates joined him on the mound and congratulated him on his milestone.
It's a great, great moment, Rivera said. Definitely, [the Yankees] are part of my family because we spend so much time together. To see them on the top step rooting, it's priceless.
At age 41, the right-handed pitcher from Panama has enjoyed an illustrious 15 years in the league, all of them spent with the Yankees. But now, Rivera is just one save opportunity away from tying Trevor Hoffman's all-time MLB save record (601), and two from breaking it.
I don't know if we'll ever see it again, said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. That's how much of an accomplishment this is that he and Trevor Hoffman have made. Simply remarkable.
This is the second big milestone for a Yankees player this season. In July, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter celebrated his 3,000th hit. Jeter knows the importance of his teammate's milestone.
We've been closer for a long time and I know how important it is for him to come in and do his job, Jeter said. He takes a lot of pride in it. He's a prideful guy.
In his 15 years in the MLB, Rivera recorded nine years with 40 or more saves, but his 600 saves doesn't even include his record-42 saves in the postseason.
About every game Mariano has ever pitched has been a meaningful game, said Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Every one of those saves meant something.
Rivera's incredible longevity in the league is a direct result of excellent health and conditioning, as well as a scorching fastball, his most famous pitch.
This is a guy who I believe is the best closer that's ever been in the game and I've had the fortune of catching him, coaching him, and managing him, and it's a treat, Girardi said.
Rivera's next save opportunity comes Wednesday night in the Yankee's series finale at Seattle. Then on Friday, the Yankees will begin a three-game series with the Blue Jays in Toronto, where Rivera will have a chance to break the all-time saves record.