It’s time for Oakland to say farewell to Rivera

Thursday’s series finale with the Yankees was the finale of another kind.

Unless the A’s and the Yankees were to meet in the 2013 post-season, it marks the last time Mariano Rivera will be an active player in the Coliseum. He’s retiring at the end of a career that can only be summed up as glorious, and the A’s and Yankees don’t play again this season.

Rivera won his first big league game in Oakland back in 1995, but it’s not for his wins that he’ll be remember but for the 631 (and counting) saves he’s piled up as the closer’s closer.

A’s manager Bob Melvin was in the Yankee organization when Rivera was coming up, and Melvin remembers a different pitcher than the one Major League fans have gotten used to, the one throwing perhaps as nasty a cutter as anyone has ever thrown.

“I caught him late in my career, and early in his, in (Triple-A) Columbus,’’ Melvin said Thursday morning. “When I caught him, he was throwing a four-seam fastball. The decision to go with the cutter was a good thing.

“But his four-seamer was good. It had a lot of late life. He liked to pitch up in the zone with it.’’

   Melvin described Rivera’s career as “unbelievable.’’

“He’s meant so much to the game and to that club,’’ the manager said. “We’re seeing him at the top. It’s a rare that a guy goes out on top like this.’’

Coming into his Oakland finale, Rivera is 0-1 but with a 1.48 ERA and 23 saves, tied for the most in the American League. Against the A’s as a whole he’s 5-4 with a 2.27 ERA and 35 saves. Pitching in just the Coliseum, he’s 1-2 with a 1.66 ERA and 18 saves.

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.