21. Career best 54 saves for overachieving 2004 team: The Yankees were a much different team in the 2004 season. Instead of Alfonso Soriano, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, there were now Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Kenny Lofton, Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez. The Yankees had one of the worst rotations in the game. Still, they managed to win 101 games again because their offense was too good and Mariano led the majors with a career high in 53 saves while blowing just four. The Yankees won their seventh straight division title.
22. 300th save: Mariano collected his 300th career save on May 28th, 2004, striking out former Yankee Tino Martinez in a 7-5 victory over Tampa Bay. He became just the 17th pitcher with over 300 saves.
24. Fenway salute: Mariano blew saves in Games 4 and 5 of the 04 ALCS, and the Yankees of course became the first team in baseball history to blow a 3-0 series lead and watched the Red Sox win their first championship in 86 years. Rivera proceeded to blow two more saves in the first week of the 2005 season, against, of course, Boston. When the two teams met again at Fenway, where the Red Sox received their rings in an epic celebration. When the Yankees were introduced, the Fenway Faithful sarcastically cheered when his name was called.
25. Cy Young runner-up: After blowing his first two save opportunities of the season, both against Boston, Rivera was booed loudly by the Yankee Faithful and many media pundits wondered if it was the beginning of the end of the Sandman. However, Mo rebounded and went on to have arguably the best season of his career, converting 43 of 47 chances and pitching to career bests in ERA (1.38) and ERA+ (308). For his efforts, Rivera was the runner-up in the AL Cy Young voting to Bartolo Colon, never an easy accomplishment for a relief pitcher.
26. 400th save: Rivera picked up save #400 on July 16th, 2006 in a sweep of the defending World Champion White Sox. Mo entered the game in the eighth inning, bailing out Kyle Farnsworth by getting a pop-up and a 4-6-3 double play.
He pitched through the ninth by getting Paul Konerko to ground into 6-4-3 twin killing and striking out Jermaine Dye to end it. Rivera became only the fourth pitcher to join this exclusive club.
27. Not finished yet: In 2007 Rivera had a career “worst” 3.15 ERA and at 37 “experts” once again wondered if he was on the decline. After intense negotiations in the offseason, Mo got his money and responded in 2008 with another incredible season. 1.40 ERA, blowing only one save for the entire year and posted a ridiculous 12.83 K/BB ratio and 0.665 WHIP. He pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in the marathon All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. The previous week, he pitched out of a bases-loaded jam, like Houdini, and closed out a wild 2-1 win over Boston on Fox.
28. Closing out the House that Ruth Built: 2008 saw Rivera miss the playoffs for the first time in his career. Mo closed