Tying Mo's club whiff record, Betances feeling 'thankful'

Righty reliever honored to be mentioned alongside Yankees legend

Tying Mo's club whiff record, Betances feeling 'thankful'

ST. PETERSBURG -- On the night that Charlie Hayes settled underneath that foul popup at the old Yankee Stadium, Dellin Betances had already decided that he would be a Yankees fan; at least when he wasn't handling his second grade classwork from P.S. 48 in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.

It was only later that Betances would fully appreciate the contributions that Mariano Rivera had to that World Series championship season, and to see his name and statistics now lined up against Rivera's 1996 campaign has been a thrill for the 26-year-old flame-thrower.

"Now that I look back at it, I think it was amazing stuff that he did," Betances said. "I didn't realize that he threw that many innings. To see that, he was a big contributor in that year, helping them win the World Series. I think that's a tremendous job he did.

"I remember them winning, but not too much. I was still young at the time. I didn't even play baseball yet, but I did go watch a bunch of games. That's the team I grew up rooting for."

Betances recorded two strikeouts in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Orioles, giving him 130 in 86 2/3 innings. That ties Rivera's franchise record for a reliever, though Rivera -- then the setup man for closer John Wetteland -- needed 107 2/3 innings to reach that total, doing so in a year when Rivera was 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA in 61 regular-season appearances.

"Yeah, but he did it with one pitch," Betances is quick to point out.

Betances' strikeout total is tied for the eighth-highest single-season total of any American League reliever, and the 16th-highest such total in Major League history. Betances said that he was aware of Rivera's franchise strikeout mark, but was not focused on it.

"For me, to just be mentioned in any sentence, any breath with Mariano Rivera -- I'm just honored," Betances said. "It's been a long, long journey for me coming up the Minor League system and for me to have the year I've had this year, I'm definitely honored and thankful.

"I came into Spring Training just hoping to get a job on the team and here I am just contributing in a big way. I'm just thankful for the opportunity that I've gotten from the organization. I'm truly blessed to be mentioned in any sentence with the best of all time."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.