A Night For Jeter, Another "W" For The 'Pen

Jack DoranContributor ISeptember 11, 2009

ATLANTA - JUNE 25:  Manager Joe Girardi #27 of the New York Yankees congratulates reliever Mariano Rivera #42 after he saved an 11-7 win over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 25, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Being witness to Yankee history is a wonderful thing.  Incorporating a historic event within a Yankee victory even better. 

Derek Jeter would have it no other way.  The Yankee captain has, and will, always put victory first. 

The "W" is all that matters.

On the night Derek Jeter collected career hits 2,719, 2,720 and 2,721 to tie Lou Gehrig for the club's all-time lead, his bullpen surrendered zero hits. 

Thanks to the "Joba Rules", which limits starter Joba Chamberlain's innings, the Yankee 'pen was summoned after three innings. 

Alfredo Aceves (3 innings), Jonathan Albaladejo (2 innings), Brian Bruney (.2 innings) and Phil Coke (.1 innings) combined for six innings of no-hit baseball.  Albaladejo (5-1) earned the win with Coke getting his second save.

These types of pitching lines are becoming the norm for a group that Yankee fans can't help but believe in. 

Could it be that the unbuildable "bridge" to Mariano has finally been rebuilt? 

Not since Mendoza, Stanton and Nelson has the Yankee 'pen seemed so cohesive, and the numbers don't lie.

First and foremost are the wins and losses. 

Yankee relievers have a combined record of 36-14 for a .720 winning percentage.  Those are the most wins and fewest losses in baseball. 

Amazingly, the Yankees have finished the seventh inning tied 15 times and are 15-0 in these games. 

Leading the way in victories is Mr. Everything Alfredo Aceves at 10-1. 

Aceves has pitched in virtually every role for the Yankees and has been rewarded with that fine record. 

Other big winners are super set-up man Phil Hughes (6-3), Albaladejo (5-1) (despite most of the season in the minors), Bruney (4-0) and Coke (4-3).

Of course, most of these wins only become recorded history after the G.O.A.T. does his job.  That is the Greatest Of All Time Rivera. 

With a league leading 39 saves in 40 chances and 35 in a row, Rivera continues to be breathtaking. 

Actually, breathtaking may be a poor choice of words.  Rarely does he labor, and thus rarely do others hold their breath. 

As a team, New York leads baseball with 46 saves and is second to Cincinnati's 10 blown saves with 11.

All this wealth spread so evenly among relievers is no small task.  In fact, it could be argued that the job manager Joe Girardi has done with his bullpen should lead to manager of the year consideration. 

It is easy for Yankee fans to recall how Joe Torre trusted few relievers, relying on the same arms to the point of abuse, i.e. Quantrill, Gordon, Proctor. 

It's also easy to to recall the championships Mr. Torre won with the depth of one 'pen having Mendoza, Stanton, Nelson and Rivera.

As October nears and a return to the postseason all but guaranteed, Yankee fans can at least have some cautious optimism. 

Especially if the games are close late.