Its the top of the ninth inning in a tie ball game. All you are looking for is to get an easy 1-2-3 inning under your belt so you can go back into your dugout and win it in the bottom of the ninth. The question here is who do you bring in to pitch that you have 100% confidence will shut the other team down? Your closer right? I mean he is supposed to be the wrench you throw into the gears and stops the other team right in its tracks. He is the dominating force that runs into the game to his own song to get pumped up. He is the intimidating presence on the mound that when is in the game you know the game is over before he even throws a pitch. That is of course unless the game is tied and it is not a save situation.This is exactly the case for the great future first ballot hall of famer Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees.
For years his mid 90's cutter bore into the hands of lefty hitters and then painted the outside corner for strike three. When you saw him exit the bullpen to Enter Sandman you knew it was over. But for some reason this year whenever the Yankees have desperately needed him to stop the bleeding in a tied game to give the Yankees a fighting chance in the bottom of the ninth he hasn't delivered. He has given up 10 runs and 8 of them have come in non save situations, usually when the game is tied. This takes the wind right out of the Yankee sails and is a crushing blow.
Just last night against the weak Royals who came in losing 7 of 8 the Yankees squandered opportunity after opportunity to get big hits with runners in scoring position, Rivera came in for the top of the 9th. I knew what was going to happen and i know every Yankee fan feared it as well. Sure enough Rivera in a 3-3 game got himself into a pickle and gave up a run making it 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth. Betemit got a hit and Christian came in to pinch run only to get picked off by Soria at first base. A couple hits later Giambi came up to the plate with the bases loaded and just as the Yankees have done this year he didn't deliver, making Yankee fans all around the world wonder what's wrong.
Now I am not saying it is 100% Mo's fault that the Yankees lost the game because there were many things that went wrong before he came into the game. But after all the other things went wrong, it was Mariano Rivera, no one else, who gave up the go-ahead game winning run to the Royals
Why Mariano and most closers can't seem to shutdown a team if it is not a save situation is still a debate, and we probably won't know. It could be nerves or the lack of adrenaline without the crowd as loud as it normally is. Whatever the case, if the Yankees are looking to make a run for the wild card in which they now find themselves 7 back of the Red Sox, they need to get every win they should get. That means Rivera shutting the opposing team down during a tied game in the 8th, 9th, and 10th inning.