Yankees’ Mariano Rivera sets mark with 602nd save

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He nearly did it outside the country. The 41-year-old Rivera tied Hoffman with save No. 601 on Saturday in Toronto. The AL East leaders lost Sunday, putting Rivera in line to get the milestone in the Yankees‘ last homestand of the season.

And who would’ve thought it, at least back in 1995 when Rivera started out. He began his career as a starter, lasting only 3 1-3 innings and losing 10-0 to the Angels in his debut, before becoming a star in the bullpen.

Rivera’s 602 saves have come in 674 chances. Hoffman got his 601 in 677 tries.

Paid attendance was 40,045, less than the capacity crowd and attendant hullabaloo surrounding Jeter’s historic hit. STATS LLC said Monday’s makeup game drew the fewest fans since the new Yankee Stadium opened.

The Twins lost their ninth straight, tying a run in May as their worst of the season. The Yankees have been struggling, too _ this was just their fifth win in 12 games.

Rivera has finished their last three victories, though. He earned his 600th save in Seattle on Sept. 13.

Now that the milestone is behind him, Rivera can focus on getting ready for his 16th October in 17 seasons _ the time of year his reputation was made. Those 602 saves don’t count any of the 42 he locked down in the playoffs _ in only 47 chances. The Yankees lead Boston by 5 games in the AL East with 10 to play.

A.J. Burnett didn’t make it past the fifth inning, but Cory Wade (6-1), Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano and David Robertson kept the Twins at bay until Rivera came on in the ninth, and Curtis Granderson hit his 41st homer of the year.

Granderson’s homer off Scott Diamond (1-5) came in the first after Jeter reached on an infield single, and Robinson Cano hit an RBI triple in the third followed by Nick Swisher’s single to make it 5-0. Rodriguez hit a two-out RBI single in the sixth _ right around the time Rivera was realizing he could be called on in the ninth.

As he has been since he got his first save on May 17, 1996, Mo was ready in the ninth. Eventually, he will no longer be the Yankees‘ closer. Rivera said he doesn’t know yet when he’ll call it a career, saying “it’s a decision that we have to make as a family.”

“I don’t know if I can pitch three more years, you guys. It’s hard out there. I don’t have any hair anymore.”

Just five pitchers who were primarily relievers are in the Hall of Fame: Hoyt Wilhelm (1985), Rollie Fingers (1992), Dennis Eckersley (2004), Bruce Sutter (2006) and Goose Gossage (2008). Rivera, who turns 42 in November, is set to be the sixth once he does retire.

“Baseball will remain without me,” Rivera said. “There will be other good guys closing games _ and I will be watching.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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