Not only did New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera get a sculpture from the Baltimore Orioles on the occasion of his final appearance at Camden Yards as an active player Thursday night, but he also got a little something unexpected from the official scorer. His 82nd career victory.
Rivera entered the game with a one-run lead and pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth, as he has so many times in his career. And yet, he did not pick up career save No. 651. Instead, despite coming along after his team had taken the lead, Rivera was credited with the victory when the Yankees beat the Orioles 6-5.
The official scorer ruled Rivera the winner because David Robertson — who was in the game when New York took the lead — made a "brief and ineffective" appearance. Well, those are words nobody likes to hear, but Robertson had allowed three runs and four hits, letting Baltimore tie the score in the eighth. That's pretty ineffective. And fairly brief. And it would have been worse had Alfonso Soriano not been around. A lot of Yankees fans on Twitter didn't seem to like it that the mean man from Baltimore took a save away from Mo like that, but the rules give official scorer Mark Jacobson the latitude to do it:
The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.
Rule 10.17(c) Comment: The official scorer generally should, but is not required to, consider the appearance of a relief pitcher to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more earned runs to score (even if such runs are charged to a previous pitcher). Rule 10.17 (b) Comment provides guidance on choosing the winning pitcher from among several succeeding relief pitchers.
Jacobson didn't go by the letter of the guideline (Robertson pitched a full inning) but he doesn't have to. So this ruling is not going to be changed, you people obsessed with how many saves Rivera has come retirement.
The elephant in the room, of course, is how subjective and silly the save and individual win statistics are. I'd like to think this instance will be a notable step toward weakening their prominence and importance. Really what has to happen is, an official scorer has to rise up one day and say "No more!" and credit the win to nobody. Of course, the decision would be overturned because it's not allowed within the official scoring rules, but the revolution would have begun. Oh, yes, it would have begun.