Mariano Rivera's Top Career Moments

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Text: Jay Jaffe
Photo: John Iacono/SI

Rivera's epic postseason debut

Oct. 4, 1995

As a rookie, the 25-year-old Rivera spent the first three-quarters of his season bouncing between the rotation — where he was knocked around for a 5.94 ERA in 10 starts — and Triple-A Columbus. Not until September did he move to the bullpen for good, but when he did, he began to win New York manager Buck Showalter's trust.

Rivera's introduction to the postseason — which he would eventually come to dominate as no other pitcher had before — came in the top of the 12th inning of Game 2 of the Division Series against the Mariners. He took over for a spent John Wetteland, who had pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball until serving up a tiebreaking solo homer to Ken Griffey Jr., and then a single to Edgar Martinez. Rivera struck out Jay Buhner to end the frame, then stayed on after the Yankees tied the score at 5-5 in the bottom of the 12th. He retired the first eight hitters he faced before Martinez and Buhner singled with one out in the 15th. Rivera responded by whiffing Doug Strange and getting future teammate Tino Martinez on a flyball. Jim Leyritz won the game with a solo homer in the bottom of the 15th, giving the Yankees a 2-0 series lead — one that alas, they would not hold.

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