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New York Yankees: Top 10 Mariano Rivera Moments

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Mariano Rivera: Top 10 Moments

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera officially finished his illustrious 19-year career on Sunday. Many fans and experts consider Rivera to be the greatest closer ever.

Rivera was able to accomplish many feats while playing for the Yankees. He retires as the last MLB player to wear no. 42 after it was retired league-wide on Apr. 15, 1997.

Players were allowed to continuing wearing the number for the duration of their respective playing careers if they had been wearing it prior to Apr. 15, 1997. Rivera was beloved by Jackie Robinson’s family; Robinson's accomplishments were the reason why the number was retired, so the family embraced him while he was wearing no. 42.

He was part of the fantastic four of Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada, that helped the Yankees win five World Series. Rivera also won the World Series MVP in 1999. If that was not enough, he also holds the record for the lowest ERA in postseason history.

Rivera finished his career with an improbable 0.70 ERA in 141 IP in the postseason. The thing that makes that postseason record even more unbelievable is that the next five pitchers on the list threw a combined 150.3 IP, and St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Harry Brecheen has the lowest ERA among them with 0.83 in 32.2 IP.

Rivera was not only a great postseason pitcher either. He had a 2.21 regular-season ERA with a MLB-record 652 saves. Rivera had nine seasons where he recorded at least 40 saves, which shows how consistently dominant he was in the ninth inning.

Rivera exuded excellence on and off the field. He was beloved by Yankees’ fans and respected by Yankees haters. Fans will dearly miss him even more when they see projected closer David Robertson run out of the bullpen for a save opportunity in 2014. Rivera was famous for having "Enter Sandman" by Metallica played in Yankee stadium when he ran in from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound.

There are many great moments in Rivera’s Hall of Fame career. Here are the top 10 moments from his dominant career.

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10. Sept. 21, 2004 -- Second 50-Save Season

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Rivera had a really good year in 2003 when he recorded 40 saves. On Sept. 21, 2004, he cemented his name again in the record books.

Prior to 2004, no closer had ever had multiple 50-save seasons. Rivera had 50 saves in 2000.

On Sept. 21, he recorded his 50th save of the season when he pitched one inning against the Toronto Blue Jays and gave up one run. The Yankees won the game 5-3.

It takes a lot of skill and luck to be able to record 50 saves not once, but twice. This feat may never be duplicated.

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9. Nov. 9, 2005 -- Second Place in AL Cy Young Voting

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Mariano Rivera was coming off an unbelievable 2004 season when he finished third in the AL Cy Young award voting. It was improbable to think Rivera could possibly do better than that, but he did.

Rivera finished the 2005 season with a 7-4 record, 80 strikeouts in 78.1 innings pitched and a minuscule 1.38 ERA. The AL Cy Young award voters must have thought highly of his performance because he finished second with 68 votes.

Only four AL relievers have won the AL Cy Young award. The fact that Rivera was able to finish in second over prominent players that season like Minnesota Twins’ starting pitcher Johan Santana is a huge accomplishment.

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8. Nov. 17, 2004 -- Ninth Place in AL MVP Voting

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No one ever doubted that Mariano had a great 2004 season, but few experts could have predicted how well he fared in the AL MVP voting.

Prior to 2004, Rivera’s best MVP finish was in 11th in 2001. Closers typically do not fare well in MVP voting; only three AL closers received enough votes to win the award.

Rivera improbably finished ninth in the 2004 AL MVP voting. This is a great achievement because it shows that he was so dominant that some voters considered him to be worthy of AL MVP.

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7. July 16, 2013 -- All Star MVP

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Rivera was hoping to go out on top in 2013 and he had a very good first half. Detroit Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland selected him as one of the pitchers on the American League roster in the Midsummer Classic.

On July 16, Rivera had a good performance in the All-Star Game. He pitched a perfect eighth inning to help the AL win.

The fans showed their appreciation for Rivera by voting him to win the Most Valuable Player award. When the fans think a player deserves the MVP award and he only pitched an inning, it shows that he is a special player.

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6. Oct. 4, 1995 -- First great playoff performance

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Mariano Rivera began to earn a reputation as a great postseason pitcher in 1995. The New York Yankees won the first game against the Seattle Mariners in the best-of-five American League Divisional Series.

In Game 2, Rivera entered the game in the 12th inning shortly after closer John Wetteland allowed a go-ahead home run, to Ken Griffey Jr. Rivera pitched phenomenally as the Yankees came back to win the game in the 15th inning, 7-5.

Rivera pitched 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and striking out five. This was the start of eight consecutive scoreless innings, thus the beginning of Rivera’s October legacy.

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5. The 1998 Postseason

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Rivera had one of the best postseason performances in the 1998 playoffs.

He pitched in 10 different games in the 1998 playoffs and gave up zero runs. If that is not enough to make it a great postseason, he recorded six saves en route to a World Series Championship.

Few pitchers are lucky enough to record consecutive scoreless innings in a playoff game, let alone consecutive games. For Rivera, all that matters is winning the World Series, but that zero ERA will never be duplicated.

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4. Oct. 16, 2003 -- Helped the Yankees Win ALCS ‘Miracle’ Game 7

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The New York Yankees were playing an intense AL Championship Series against their rival, the Boston Red Sox. The series was heading to a winner-take-all Game 7 at Yankee Stadium.

With the game tied at five, Mariano Rivera entered the game late and had to perform well so the Yankees could try to advance to another World Series. He did his job as he pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and striking out three.

The Yankees went to win the game 6-5 when Aaron Boone hit the infamous walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 13th inning. Rivera played a big part in helping the Yankees defeat their rival.

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3. Sept. 19, 2011 -- Save Number 601

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Prior to 2011, Rivera was viewed by fans and experts alike to be the greatest closer. The only thing missing for Rivera was the all-time saves record.

Trevor Hoffman owned the record with 601 saves, but Rivera was closing in on the record. On Sept. 19, Rivera pitched a scoreless inning to earn save no. 602 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a 6-5 Yankees’ win. It is a huge accomplishment for the greatest closer to own the saves record, which will never be broken.

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2. Nov. 4, 2009 -- World Series MVP

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Mariano Rivera had a chance to win his fifth World Series, and his first since 2000, when the New York Yankees faced the Philadelphia Phillies on Oct. 28, 2009.

Not only did Rivera help the Yankees win the World Series, but he also dominated the Phillies. In 5.1 innings in four games, he allowed five total base runners, struck out three, and recorded three saves.

This was the first and only World Series MVP for Rivera. There is nothing more impressive for a player that loves winning like Rivera than to win the World Series and World Series MVP.

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1. Sept. 26, 2013 -- Last Career Pitching Performance

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knew that Mariano Rivera’s last home game would be on Thursday, after the New York Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday.

It was expected to be an emotional event as the Yankees fans would see one of their favorite players pitch at Yankee stadium for the final time. Rivera entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning with the Tampa Bay Rays leading the Yankees 4-0.

He went on to pitch a perfect inning and a third before a pitching change appeared to be on the horizon. Rivera’s longtime teammates, starting pitcher Andy Pettitte and shortstop Derek Jeter, walked out to the mound to take him out of the game.

Rivera was extremely emotional as he hugged Pettitte and Jeter. Rivera received a standing ovation from the people in attendance and the fans stuck around after the game to see the postgame interview.

In the Yankees’ storied history, it takes a lot for a player to impress the fan base. This is a moment that Rivera and the fan base will cherish for the rest of their lifetimes, despite the Rays winning the game 4-0.