Tuesday, July 17, 2007

In Appreciation of Mariano Rivera

Troubling legacy or no, Mariano Rivera is still one of the best closers in baseball.

It's become a semi-annual rite of passage: Big Mo struggles a little early, especially if Joe Torre fails to get him enough meaningful work. The media pounces, claiming it's the end of his amazing run, and then, when he pitches well May through September, nobody says a fucking word.

Well, guess what? In 30.1 innings since April, Rivera has walked two batters. His WHIP is 0.89. He is 11-for-11 in save opportunities. He has dominated.

Last night, Rivera looked like his old self while pitching the ninth inning of the Yankees' 6-4 win over Toronto in the Bronx. After giving up a leadoff double to Troy Glaus that Melky Cabrera misplayed into a triple, Rivera buckled down, striking out two and stranding Glaus at third. That old feeling of security is back when Mo comes into the game. I love to watch Rivera's reactions when he gives up a big hit, like Glaus's. He looks like he wants to punch himself in the face. I would prefer he use his anger constructively, and punch Kyle Farnsworth in the face after the game.

ARod blasted his 32nd home run to lead the Yankees' offense, which also featured bombs from Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano, along with a clutch bloop single by Nice Guy Andy.

Kei Igawa continues to benefit from amazing run support, and also continues to be one of the most frustrating pitchers to watch in baseball. He must lead the league in hits and walks allowed after starting with an 0-2 count. And after the count is 1-2, the league is hitting .355/.412/.661 against him. I know Brian Cashman says Phil Hughes is no lock to return to the rotation, but come on, Cash. You've already hampered the Yankees' chances to win enough this year with your poor bench construction and refusal to cut ties with Kyle Farnsworth. You're acting like Terry Ryan. Give this team their best chance. That means Hughes.