Friday, October 8, 2010

Mariano Rivera back in fine October form

It turns out there was no need to worry about Mariano Rivera once the calendar page turned to October. This is his month and he is pitching like it.

Joe Girardi had his ace in the bullpen and used him perfectly. When Kerry Wood got into some trouble Wednesday night, Girardi brought in Mo to douse the rally with the tying runs in scoring position. Mo was his typical brilliant self, promptly inducing a weak grounder to end the threat. He gave up a faux single in the 9th inning of that game and sent at least four bats to the wood morgue. He gave up a solid hit last night, but that was all the Twins could muster against the great Rivera.

Mo had a rough September, blowing three saves and looking hittable. It was quite shocking for New York Yankees fans used to seeing him dominate the competition, particularly late in the year. But Mo made a mechanical tweak, worked out whatever issue was bothering him and found his comfort zone, which is really bad news for the rest of baseball.

In October, there is no pitcher that opposing managers worry about more than Mo. They know that if the Yankees go into the 8th or 9th inning with a lead, the game is practically over. In their heads, they might even start planning the lineup for the next game. But if Ron Gardenhire and the Twins don't keep Mo out of Game 3, there won't be a next game for them.

The Mr. October nickname has been reserved for Reggie Jackson, but I wonder if the slugger wouldn't mind sharing it with the great Mariano, who Jackson himself has said is one of the greatest Yankees of all time. Without a doubt, Mariano is the Mr. October of pitchers.

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