Mariano Rivera ends his summer mini-vacation
BOSTON - Mariano Rivera, you may have heard, is retiring. But he's not retired yet.
The Yankees closer Sunday night got into his first game since the previous Sunday, when he blew his third save in a row for the first time in his career.
Rivera earned his 36th save in 41 chances in the Yankees' 9-6 victory. He got the first two outs easily on groundouts, then allowed a single to David Ortiz and walked Jonny Gomes before getting Jarrod Saltalamacchia to line out to left to end it.
Before the game, it was unclear whether the Yankees would try to get Rivera some work even if it turned out to be a non-save situation.
"It's too much time [off]," Rivera said. "You want to get in the action. But at the same time, as long as we win, that's the most important thing. I always say it's not about one person or two persons, it's about 25 players that are pulling for a victory. So I've learned how to wait and be patient and when it comes, just do my job."
The Yankees hadn't had a save situation since last Monday, when Joe Girardi bypassed Rivera and used Boone Logan and David Robertson in the ninth against the Angels.
On Friday, Rivera warmed up in the top of the ninth, but the Yankees scored three runs to turn a 7-3 game into a 10-3 lead. Rivera sat down and Joba Chamberlain started the bottom of the ninth.
"It was fine to me," Rivera said. "I threw. I'm still working. I'm fine with it. It's not my first rodeo. I'm OK with it."
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild was perhaps more concerned about the 43-year-old Rivera's lack of activity. But Rothschild noted that Rivera doesn't like to pitch in non-save situations, so he wasn't sure if Girardi would try to get him in the game.
"We usually don't, but I'll talk to Joe about it and we'll see," Rothschild said. "It's hard to do on the road. But you do what you have to do. [Sunday night's] a little different since we're off [Monday]. We'd like to get him out there."
Rivera's three previous appearances had been blown saves -- one against the White Sox and two last weekend against the Tigers -- but the Yankees managed to come back and win the last two. Rivera even was the winning pitcher last Sunday.
His other blown saves were May 28 against the Mets and July 7 vs. Baltimore. In Rivera's last full season (2011), he blew five saves all year in 49 opportunities. To make a run at a playoff spot, the Yankees need him to be at his best.
"It has been a tough year, and we have to continue playing hard," Rivera said. "We don't have to worry about [the playoffs]. We have to win games. We'll worry about that when we need to be worried. Right now, we just have to play games and win games."