As dependable and dominant as Mariano Rivera has been during the regular season throughout his storied career, his work in the postseason has been even more memorable.
Rivera became the Majors Leagues' all-time postseason saves leader on Oct. 8, 2000, in Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the A's. The Yankees closer passed Dennis Eckersley on the list, and he hasn't looked back.
Rivera has recorded 42 saves in the playoffs, well past Eckersley's former mark of 15. Rivera's total is also more than Eckersley and Brad Lidge (second, with 18) combined, putting into perspective just how many chances Rivera has seen in October, but also how automatic he's been on the biggest stage in baseball.
Rivera's career 0.70 ERA in the postseason is also the best in Major League history. He's thrown 141 innings in the playoffs and allowed only 11 earned runs on 86 hits and 21 walks, which gives him a microscopic 0.76 WHIP to go along with his 5.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the playoffs.
All of that led to Rivera's remarkable postseason saves total, a record that seems virtually untouchable.
Rivera passed Eckersley's mark in Oakland, where manager Tony La Russa and the Hall of Fame pitcher Eckersley essentially created the modern definition of the one-inning closer, a role Rivera would go on to perfect. Eckersley didn't have the benefit of the three-round playoff system implemented in 1994, spanning Rivera's entire career, but Rivera has still recorded 24 saves combined in the American League Championship Series and World Series, more than any other pitcher in baseball history.
Rivera was tasked with recording a five-out save that day, entering the game in the eighth inning with one out and a runner on second. But he quickly got out of that inning, striking out Terrence Long then inducing a flyout from Randy Velarde.
Rivera came back out for the ninth, trying to protect a 7-5 lead that would send the Yankees on to the AL Championship Series and eventually a World Series victory over the Mets.
Facing the heart of a dangerous A's lineup, Rivera got Jason Giambi to fly out and forced a groundout from Olmedo Saenz. Miguel Tejada reached on a single to center, then Rivera induced a foul popup from Eric Chavez to secure the win and his record-breaking 16th career save.