The job is like being a steeplejack. We've watched Brad Lidge go from World Series hero to suspended animation to three straight postseason saves. We have seen All-Star closers such as Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Huston Street and Ryan Franklin have their exit moments. It's proof -- like Kirk Gibson's home run off Dennis Eckersley -- that closers live their lives two inches from the ledge.Which is what makes Mariano Rivera so astounding. For the 13th time in 14 seasons, he will pitch in the seventh month of the season, so his recovery period is less than most anyone else in his era. OK, Bill Mueller slapped a single through the middle off him in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS to score Dave Roberts. OK, he lost the lead in the ninth inning to the Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, but he broke three bats in the rally. There is luck, and there is bad luck. Sandy Alomar Jr. also hit an opposite-field homer off Rivera in Game 4 of the ALDS in 2007.
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