Some pretty famous writers have stated that the Save is not a valid statistic. Just as many have stated that a good closer is not more valuable than any other pitcher. Tell that to the teams that had their guts ripped out last night due to the closer not getting the job done. It happened all over the major leagues last night, the loudest coming from the great Mariano Rivera. But he wasn't alone last night. Let's look at the damage:
- Mariano Rivera (Yankees): The Yankees held a 4-2 lead going into the ninth inning. Boston has its very best hitters coming up. Rivera had come into the game in the eighth to record the last out, which is a bit unusual for him, but less unusual against the Red Sox. With two outs, Rivera threw a cutter outside to Jason Bay. Big mistake and maybe just as bad an error on the catcher who called the pitch as on Rivera who delivered it. Bay knocked it out to dead center. Tie game. The Red Sox would go on to win in the 11th with a walk-off homer by Kevin Youkilis off of the worst Yankee reliever - Marte.
- George Sherrill (Orioles): The Orioles got a great start from newcomer Koji Uehara and were leading 4-3 going into the ninth. George Sherrill was called to get the save and couldn't get it done. Michael Young hit a two run homer and the Rangers won 5-4. Sherrill has now blown 22% of his lifetime save opportunities. Tell the fans in Baltimore that a save is a stupid statistic.
- Matt Lindstrom (Marlins): The Fan stated earlier this month that Lindstrom was a weakness for the Marlins, who otherwise are very strong in overall pitching. Last night against the Phillies, Josh Johnson had a lights out outing with seven shutout innings, fanning eight. Leo Nunez was fantastic in the eighth, striking out two. The ninth belonged to Lindstrom and he belonged to the Phillies. He was within an out of getting the save but then gave up a grand slam to Victorino and then a back-to-back solo homer by Chase Utley. Lindstrom's line for the night: 0.2 4 7 7 3 1. Ugh. Lindstrom has now blown two of five save opportunities this year and five of thirteen for his career. Florida fans must really think the save is a stupid stat.
- Manuel Corpas (Colorado): The Rockies have two closers, Corpas and Hudson Street. Street started the year as the closer, but was ineffective and then Corpas was given the job. Last night against the Dodgers, Street gave up two runs in the eighth to allow the Dodgers to go ahead in the game. After the Rockies came back and tied the game in the bottom of the eighth with two runs of their own, Corpas gave up the game winner in the ninth. Not a blown save, but a blown win by both Street and Corpas.
So that's four games affected negatively by the closer out of fifteen games played (27%). And K-Rod very nearly blew the save for the Mets and Johan Santana. All losses are hard to take, but when you have a game nearly won and lose it in the late innings, it's a particularly nasty way to lose.