August 11, 2013 is a day that will live in infamy for Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees fans, and baseball fans all around.
Earlier on this day, Rivera, for the first time in his amazing Hall of Fame career, blew his third straight save opportunity, and his second in three days to the Detroit Tigers. Now the Yankees did end up winning both of those games on a Brett Gardner walk off single and solo home run, but still, there is usually never the need for walk off hits when Rivera enters the game in the 9th with a lead.
Regardless of his current struggles, Rivera is and will always be the greatest closer in Major League Baseball history, but for the first time in his entire career, not only has he blown three straight save opportunities, but he is all of a sudden failing to throw his famous cutter precisely where and when he wants to.
Me personally, I have never seen Rivera get hit this hard and give up this many home runs (3) in back to back appearances in the 9th inning.
Usually if Rivera blows a save, and that is a big if, he gives up bloop singles on broken bats after jamming a hitter inside with his cutter not by giving up monster shots after throwing pitches that cut over the middle of the plate.
In what was shaping up to be a brilliant farewell season for Rivera of showing the entire league that he can still pitch for many more years if he so chose to, these three straight blown saves and the ability of batters to hit his cutter hard prove to me that Mo’s decision to retire after this year is the wise choice.
Now maybe this is all just a big speed bump for Rivera in his last year in baseball, but nevertheless one has to wonder whether the future Hall of Famer is finally feeling his age, something that no baseball fan thought could ever happen.