Truth be told, the Oakland A’s didn’t want to see Mariano Rivera pitch against them one more time.
He’s that good – a legend, really. His 631 career saves is a number that boggles the mind.
The A’s would have been more than happy to honor Rivera in a pre-game ceremony, then make sure there was no situation where they’d actually have to face him.
Well, 18 innings of baseball can spoil any plan.
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.’’