NEW YORK -- After he was introduced as one of the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Mariano Rivera said fellow inductee Edgar Martinez owed him dinner. Why? Because Martinez feasted on the former Yankees closer."It's because of me [that Martinez's] batting average was better," Rivera joked as
NEW YORK -- After he was introduced as one of the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Mariano Rivera said fellow inductee Edgar Martinez owed him dinner. Why? Because Martinez feasted on the former Yankees closer.
"It's because of me [that Martinez's] batting average was better," Rivera joked as the Hall of Fame Class of 2019 met with reporters at the St. Regis hotel on Wednesday. "So, therefore, you owe me dinner."
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How successful was Martinez against the greatest closer of all time? The right-handed-hitting slugger was 11-for-19 (.579 average) with two home runs, six RBIs and a 1.053 slugging percentage in 21 plate appearances.
"Was I that easy [to face]?" Rivera asked Martinez.
"No," Martinez answered. "I may have good numbers, but when he came in late in the game, it was a challenge. Even if you get a hit, it doesn't feel like you are getting a hit. It's tough. He is one of the best [closers] in history. His consistency through the years makes him the best ever. You never feel comfortable."
To Martinez's point, in Game 6 of the 2000 American League Championship Series, the Mariners were one out away from being eliminated from the postseason and Martinez represented the tying run. The game ended with Martinez grounding out to Derek Jeter.
"Mariano always threw the cutter," Martinez said. "And I said, 'He is going to throw a cutter -- middle away.' Then [I get] the first sinker from Mariano during my entire career. He threw a sinker in and I hit a weak [ground ball]. Game over and we are going home. I want to trade all those hits for that at-bat."
Rivera has great respect for how tough it was to face Martinez.
"It was tough for me, especially in my young career," Rivera said. "During my first few years, I didn't want to see Edgar in that tough situation. I told [then-manager] Joe Torre, 'If you bring in Paul O'Neill behind second base, we might get [Martinez] out. … When you face the type of hitter that Edgar was, you really had to bring your [A] game. If not, he would have you for breakfast, lunch and dinner."
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.