What's the Deal with Mariano Rivera's Non-Save Struggles?

gregory caldarellaAnalyst IAugust 4, 2008

Friday's night game versus the Halos gave us another example of how Mariano Rivera seems like a different pitcher when brought into a non-save situation. The great closer is enjoying one of the best years of his sure to-be hall of fame career, but he has been worse than ever when he enters the game for any reason other than a save opportunity.

It was a tied game in the ninth and Girardi called upon his closer to hold the game at a tie. He entered the game and proceeded to walk the lead off man. The walk was just his fifth walk issued all year. A single then led to runners at first and third and Tori Hunter soon after singled in the go ahead run.

No one really has the answer to such a thing. Rivera has been perfect in nailing down all 26 save attempts this year but has been far from perfect in other situations. Rivera sat in front of his locker after that game a loss for words only to mutter the word, "unacceptable."

"I wish I could explain it," Rivera said. "I wish somebody could explain it to me."

When asked to comment on his odd struggles, manager Joe Girardi replied, "Can't. Can't, it's something that some closers go through. Mo's done it for so long. It's just kind of an unusual year. He's been unbelievable in save situations for us."

But Girardi also gave his closer a vote of confidence by saying, "I'm going to continue to go to him because that's his job. Mo's the greatest closer of all time."

Here's a look at the numbers this year for Mo:

16 non-save situations: 21 innings, 18 hits, seven runs, 3.00 ERA.

26 save situations: 27.1 innings, 12 hits, one run, 0.33 ERA.

It just seems to be one of those things that doesn't have an explanation but it is becoming an eerie trend in tied games at Yankee Stadium in the ninth inning.