Rivera becomes second pitcher to reach 600 saves in Yankees’ win over Seattle

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Janey Murray

Mariano Rivera was about to enter an elite club on Sept. 13, 2011. But at the time, he didn’t think much of it.

The legendary New York Yankees closer entered that day’s game against the Seattle Mariners needing just one save to become the second pitcher ever to collect 600 career saves.

“I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” Rivera told Newsday after recording his 599th save in Anaheim two days prior.

On Sept. 13, he made history, recording his 41st save of the season and the 600th of his career at Safeco Field in Seattle. Only Trevor Hoffman, also a future Hall of Famer, had reached the 600 mark previously, becoming the first to do so on Sept. 7, 2010.

The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second thanks to a solo homer by Robinson Canó and a wild pitch that allowed Jesus Montero to score. But the Mariners quickly evened things up with an RBI single in the second and a sacrifice fly in the third.

Canó gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead with an RBI fielder’s choice groundout in the top of the sixth, setting up the save chance for Rivera in the ninth.

With a one-run lead, Rivera struck out the first batter he faced, then allowed a single to Ichiro Suzuki. After Kyle Seager struck out, the game ended when Suzuki was caught stealing second, securing the Yankees win and Rivera’s 600th save.

The ensuing celebration was subdued, as Rivera’s teammates and coaches gathered around him near the mound and exchanged hugs and handshakes all around.

Even after attaining such a historic milestone, Rivera wasn’t ready to relish in his accomplishment yet.

“Maybe later on after I retire, but right now I’m not focused on that. I’m not that type of guy. I’m a team player,” Rivera told the Associated Press. “I tell you guys many times and I’ll continue to tell you, it doesn’t depend on myself. It depends on my teammates giving me the opportunity to be able to pitch.”

While Rivera turned the attention back to the team, his Yankee teammates were not hesitant to laud their closer’s achievement.

“It’s remarkable, but it doesn’t really surprise me,” Derek Jeter told the Daily News. “Mo’s been consistent for a very, very long time. You do it long enough, good things happen.”

The 600 mark also put Rivera within two saves of eclipsing Hoffman’s all-time saves record of 601.

Six days later, he would set a new all-time record with his 602nd save in a win over the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 19.

“More than anything, it’s the way he’s gotten those 600 saves with one pitch,” Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said, referring to Rivera’s legendary cut fastball. “To save that many games is incredible, but to do it with one pitch? He’s tremendous.”

Rivera went on to exceed Hoffman’s previous all-time record, reaching 652 saves before he retired in 2013. He remains the owner of the all-time career saves record and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

“It’s an incredible accomplishment,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after Rivera recorded his 600th save. “I don’t know if we’ll ever see it again. That’s how incredible it is.”

Janey Murray was the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series