NEW YORK -- In the final season of his baseball career, Mariano Rivera has done something for the first time.
Rivera, boasting the most saves in major league history -- 643 and counting -- now has three consecutive blown saves.
Entering in the ninth inning with the Yankees leading the Detroit Tigers 4-2 on Sunday, Rivera surrendered solo home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. The Yankees won 5-4, thanks to a Brett Gardner walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Rivera said both pitches were mistakes. "I left the ball up," he said. "Martinez, the ball was just laying flat up. And also with Miguel. Again, you're facing professional hitters. If you don't put the ball where you need to, you're gonna get hit."
The 43-year-old has looked as good as ever for most of this season. He delivered in 35 of his first 37 opportunities, entered August with a 1.60 ERA and currently ranks third in the majors with 35 saves.
But this past Wednesday in Chicago, with the Yankees leading 4-3 heading into the ninth, Rivera allowed the White Sox to tie the game via a Gordon Beckham double and an Adam Dunn single.
On Friday night in the Bronx, with the Yankees leading 4-2 and a runner aboard, Cabrera took Rivera deep to knot things up. And Cabrera did it again on Sunday, becoming the first player ever to homer in consecutive at-bats against Rivera (according to the Elias Sports Bureau).
"It's not surprising," Rivera said when asked about the home runs. "You're talking about professional hitters. But, at the same time, I didn't put the ball where I wanted to. That's the difference. So you have to continue working."
Rivera said he was not aware he'd never blown three saves in a row before.
"There's always a first time," he said. "I don't pay attention to that stuff. Just go out there and do my job. The last three opportunities, I haven't done it. You have to continue battling."
The Yankees lost that game in Chicago on Wednesday but bounced back to win both Friday and Sunday. "That's the most important thing," Rivera said.
When asked if he is worried about this bad stretch, Rivera laughed.
"No, I don't worry about it," he said. "We always have this kind of conversation. Early, late, middle of the season. It happens."
But this has never happened before. And with just 46 regular-season games remaining in Rivera's Hall of Fame career, don't expect to see it happen again.