Mariano Rivera delivers a ninth-inning pitch against the Texas Rangers....

Mariano Rivera delivers a ninth-inning pitch against the Texas Rangers. (April 16, 2011) Credit: Getty Images


Mariano Rivera sat in front of his locker yesterday, glancing up at a nearby television, when ESPN switched to highlights of the Yankees-Orioles game from just moments earlier.

Calmly but intently, the Yankees' legendary closer watched as he blew his second straight save opportunity when Baltimore's Brian Roberts laced a double down the rightfield line with two outs in the ninth inning. And how Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Russell Martin teamed to save Rivera from a loss when they executed a superb relay to nab the Orioles' Robert Andino at home -- in a very close play.

The Yankees proceeded to win in 11 innings, 6-3, surviving a wacky day at Camden Yards that featured two plays at the plate, a 40-minute rain delay, four hits by Derek Jeter and the absence of setup man Rafael Soriano (lower back) that led to Rivera's difficulties.

And when Rivera fails to convert two straight saves -- for the first time since April 15 and 20 of 2007 -- all that other stuff becomes secondary to Yankee Universe.

To this, Rivera responded, not shockingly, with his trademark tranquility. Whatever he saw by watching the replay? It didn't appear to concern him.

"No, no, I don't need to work on that," Rivera said. "Keep pitching. Continue fighting. This is not easy. We just have to continue."

"Obviously, you don't want to see that," Joe Girardi said. "Is there anything alarming? No. We trust Mo. We'll put him back out there again. No issues."

Girardi had to make a few interesting in-game decisions on his pitchers; none of them offended this space very much.

Lifting Freddy Garcia after six innings and 90 pitches, even without Soriano available? Garcia isn't quite Roy Halladay when it comes to durability.

Going to Rivera over lefty specialist Boone Logan to get the Orioles' Luke Scott? Girardi said he didn't want to use Logan for just one batter -- righty-hitting Adam Jones stood on deck -- and he felt comfortable using Rivera for more than an inning because Rivera hadn't pitched since Tuesday, when he blew a save in Toronto. Fair enough.

That's all just fodder, however. We often question Girardi's moves. Rivera doesn't often blow two straight saves.

Rivera said he knew at the day's outset that Soriano's injury might force him to start his workday in the eighth. "You prepare for that," he said.

Nevertheless, he needed the help of speedy Brett Gardner -- who usually plays lefty hitters pretty shallow when they're facing Rivera -- to chase down Scott's hard line drive in the eighth. And the ninth proved no picnic, either.

"I thought his ball at the end was cutting too much, in a sense," Girardi said. "It was running off the plate too much."

"At times, it broke too much," catcher Russell Martin agreed. "I thought it was better today than it was in Toronto. He made some real good pitches today that he didn't get. Just a tough day at the office."

The 41-year-old probably will be unavailable Monday night against the White Sox, having thrown 33 pitches. Soriano expressed optimism that he'll be back in action; if he isn't, Girardi will have an interesting decision to make. Joba Chamberlain, who threw a shaky seventh inning Sunday, seems like the logical choice.

Really, though, what we all want to see is Rivera getting back out there and trying to show the Yankees that there's no cause for concern.

"It's behind. I can do nothing about that," he said, sounding eerily the same as he has after the 69 previous times he blew a regular-season save. "We won the game. Tomorrow is a new day."

There's every logical reason to think he'll be back to his old self shortly. That doesn't make the wait much easier for Yankees fans, though.