Betances breaks Mo's single-season K's mark by reliever

Betances breaks Mo's single-season K's mark by reliever

ST. PETERSBURG -- Dellin Betances was only 8 years old when Mariano Rivera burst on the scene as John Wetteland's elite setup man, and the flame-throwing reliever couldn't be more honored to be mentioned in the all-time saves leader's company.

After recording two strikeouts in his scoreless eighth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field, Betances owns the Yankees' single-season strikeout mark for relievers, breaking Rivera's 1996 record of 130.

"Just to be mentioned around his name, you're talking about the best closer, the best reliever in the game," said Betances, who has fanned 132 batters in 87 2/3 innings this season. "Just to be around the same breath as him, I take thrill in that."

Betances fanned Kevin Kiermaier with an 85-mph curveball for his 131st of the season, breaking the tie with Rivera. Betances also froze David DeJesus looking at an 86-mph curveball to end the inning, stranding pinch-runner Brandon Guyer at third base representing the tying run.

"I'm still trying not to let that run score obviously, because we're only up one run at the time," Betances said. "I tried to stay focused. I'm just honored and thrilled. I'm kind of speechless, just because it's incredible, everything that's happened to me."

Bumped to the bullpen after struggling as a starting-pitching prospect, Betances made the team this year after a stellar spring and was selected as an American League All-Star.

"You think about the people that he passed these past few weeks: Goose Gossage and Mariano Rivera," manager Joe Girardi said. "One Hall of Famer and one just has to wait his turn, basically. It's pretty impressive what he's done."

It was pointed out that Betances broke the record in 20 fewer innings than the 107 2/3 that Rivera pitched in '96, but Betances shrugged off that statistic.

"As far as innings, like I said before, he did it with one pitch -- so I think that's more amazing," Betances said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.