Official scorer takes save away from Mariano Rivera

Congrats, Mo, on your … win. (USATSI)
Congrats, Mo, on your … win. (USATSI)

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On Thursday night in Baltimore, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera took the ball to start the ninth and was tasked with protecting a one-run lead. In other words, it was a save situation for the future Hall of Famer who entered the night with 651 of them -- saves, that is -- to his credit. 

Rivera proceeded to retire the side in order, which was good for save number 652 ... right? Well, the Yankees took the lead in the top of the ninth only after David Robertson squandered their earlier lead in the bottom of the eighth. That means that Robertson, who gave up three runs on four hits in an inning of work, figured to get the win. But then ... 

OK. Well, per MLB rules the official scorer indeed has such latitude. Here's the relevant portion of rule 10.17:

(c) The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.
Rule 10.17(c) Comment: The official scorer generally should, but is not required to, consider the appearance of a relief pitcher to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more earned runs to score (even if such runs are charged to a previous pitcher). Rule 10.17(b) Comment provides guidance on choosing the winning pitcher from among several succeeding relief pitchers.
It seems the official scorer of note departed just a bit from the recommended guidelines and took the win from Robertson despite his having pitched a full inning. With that said, the rules say that the scorer "is not required to" adhere strictly to those criteria. 

Basically, it's the "succeeding relief pitcher" provision that's at work here. If Robertson had, say, soiled the linens in the top of the ninth in a home game and then the Yankees went on to win in the bottom of the frame, then he would've gotten his undeserved win. In this instance, though, Rivera's following up Robertson means the peerless reliever swaps his save for a win. 

Reliever wins are almost uniformly silly, of course, so this seems an odd time for the scorer to start treating them seriously. On the other hand, the rules give him sanction to do just that. 

I declare the whole thing to be weird. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for and He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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