By closing out yesterday’s 3-1 victory over the White Sox, Mariano Rivera not only helped snap the Yankees’ first two-game losing streak of the season, but he also put an end to his own streak of two consecutive blown saves.
Over his long and illustrious career, Rivera has blown two consecutive saves on eight different occasions, but never has he allowed the skid to reach three, a distinction he shares with other great closers like Trevor Hoffman, Troy Percival and Dennis Eckersley.
The record for most consecutive blown saves is four, a mark shared by nine different pitchers. Most recently, the White Sox’ Matt Thornton joined that list by coughing up four straight leads at the beginning of the month. Who knows what else Ozzie Guillen coughed up while watching?
Four Consecutive Blown Save Club
The members of the infamous four blown save club are an eclectic mix that ranges from journeyman Tyler Clippard to Hall of Famer Rich Gossage, but for the most part, all were accomplished closers at one point in their career. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t have been given four chances in the first place.
Regardless of the circumstances, a squandered lead can be demoralizing, so just imagine the impact of four in a row. However, not all blown saves are created equal. For example, Clippard, Gossage, and Dave Righetti only allowed four runs during their stretch of futility (Thornton allowed 10 runs during his recent skid). What’s more, Righetti’s streak encompassed 10 innings (giving him an ERA of 3.60), while Clippard bounced back to win three of his four blown saves.
For every hard luck loser, however, there is someone who earns his infamy the old fashion way: by earning it. In terms of consecutive blown saves, no one deserves that distinction more than Brian Fuentes. During his streak, which occurred at the end of June 2007 while the left hander was with the Rockies, Fuentes allowed 11 runs in only 2 1/3 innings. He was also tagged with the loss in all four games, each one coming in walk-off fashion.
Brian Fuentes’ Streak of Four Blown Saves
|6/22/07||TOR||BL(0-1)||0.1||4||3||2-run single by Jason McDonald|
|6/25/07||CHC||BL(0-2)||0.2||3||2||2-run single by Alfonso Soriano|
|6/28/07||HOU||BL(0-3)||0.2||3||4||Grandslam by Carlos Lee|
|6/29/07||HOU||BL(0-4)||0.2||1||2||2-run HR by Mark Loretta|
After his fourth blown save, Fuentes was finally forced to relinquish the ninth inning, a demotion the capped off a whirlwind reversal of fortune for a closer who had previously converted 20 of 22 save opportunities. What’s more, only one week earlier, Fuentes was earning rave reviews for saving the first and last games of a series sweep against the Yankees. After watching the lefty neutralize the powerful Bronx Bombers’ lineup, no one could possibly have suspected that Fuentes wouldn’t save another game all season.
One final touch of irony occurred when Fuentes was named to the NL All Star team just one day after losing his job as closer (the votes for that honor had been cast right before Fuentes had his meltdown). Did he take solace in that honor? It’s hard to say because even that was stripped away when injury (in this case, a lat strain) was added to insult, and Fuentes was forced to miss the game.