Mr. 600: Mariano Gets a Milestone

Rivera's 600th save comes after Burnett finds a new approach that works

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    The milestone men share a hug.

    The two pitchers that dominated Tuesday night's 3-2 Yankees win couldn't be more different.

    A.J. Burnett is a baffling mess with a live arm and an erratic mind, both of which were on display against the Mariners. Burnett flashed one of the best curveballs we've seen from him all year after making an adjustment to his pitching motion in the middle of the game that seemed to unlock great success.

    Mariano Rivera, on the other hand, is the textbook definition of consistency. He became the second man with 600 career saves using the same windup, delivery and pitches that he's used throughout a career so unchanging that it is only his teammates that reveal what year it is.

    Rivera is now two saves away from setting the all-time record for saves, a record that will merely add an extra layer of icing on the best closer ever cake he finished baking a long time ago. With four more games on this road trip, there's a chance he won't get it to the tones of "Enter Sandman" and that would be the only shame of his official coronation.

    It's a fitting bookend to Derek Jeter's 3000th hit, although the magnifying glass put on this mark is clearly quite a bit smaller. That doesn't make much sense given the accomplishment, but one of the nicest things about Rivera is that he never has really been too interested in stoking his own cult while carving out his niche in the game's history. 

    Speaking of cults, let's get back to Burnett and try to figure out just who brainwashed him into actually making an adjustment when things weren't going his way. He got a visit from Joe Girardi, Larry Rothschild and the trainer during the third inning, when Burnett handed back the Yankee lead, and came out for the fourth with his hands at his waist when he started his motion.

    The results were startling, even coming against a Marlins team unsure about what they are supposed to do with the long wooden sticks in their hands. Burnett struck out seven batters in his final three innings and looked like a completely different pitcher than he'd been up to that point thanks to the return to an old motion.

    We'll see if the success carries over or if Burnett can somehow do enough to convince the Yankees he's deserving of a slot on the playoff roster. The latter seems unlikely, but there still seems to be a spot in the rotation up for grabs so you never know.

    Except for Rivera. That you know and it's one of the more comforting things going in this crazy world.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.