Rivera, 41, matched the record held by Trevor Hoffman, four days after joining him as the second relief pitcher to collect 600 saves. No other reliever has 500.
Rivera, who has spent his 17-year major-league career with the Yankees, has said he’s focused on helping his team win games rather than set records. He has 42 saves this season for the Yankees, who lead the American League Eastern Division and are closing in on a playoff berth for the 16th time in 17 years.
A 12-time All-Star, Rivera has had eight seasons with at least 40 saves since moving into the Yankees’ closer role in 1997 and is one of two relievers with two 50-save campaigns.
In helping the Yankees win five World Series titles, he’s also totaled a record 42 postseason saves, more than twice as many as any other pitcher and 38 more than Hoffman, who retired in January after 18 seasons, all but two with the San Diego Padres. He pitched in 12 postseason games with four saves.
Since Rivera posted a 3.15 earned run average in 2007 with 30 saves -- his second-fewest as a closer -- he’s logged a 1.85 ERA over the past four seasons. Rivera has one season remaining on the two-year, $30 million contract he signed with the Yankees during the offseason.
Whenever Rivera breaks the tie with Hoffman, he’ll probably hold the record outright for an extended time. Lee Smith ranks third with 478 saves, while John Franco and Billy Wagner are the only other relievers to top 400. None of them are still playing.
Francisco Cordero, 36, of the Cincinnati Reds leads all active players other than Rivera with 323 saves.
Rivera, the son of a Panamanian fisherman, has been successful while predominantly throwing two pitches -- a sinker and a bat-breaking cut fastball, which he learned to throw in a 1997 warm-up session and has called a gift from God.
To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at email@example.com