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Mariano Rivera

To save a game in baseball means to maintain the lead that the pitcher's team has at the time.


In baseball statistics the term save (abbreviated SV or S) is used to indicate the successful maintenance of a lead by a relief pitcher, usually the closer, until the end of the game. A save is credited to a pitcher who fulfills the following three conditions:

  1. The pitcher is the last pitcher in a game won by his team;
  2. The pitcher is not the winning pitcher (for instance, if a starting pitcher throws a complete game win or, alternatively, if the pitcher gets a blown save and then his team scores a winning run while he is the pitcher of record, sometimes known as a "vulture win");
  3. The pitcher fulfills at least one of the following three conditions:
    1. He comes into the game with a lead of no more than three runs.
    2. He comes into the game with the potential tying run being either on base, at bat, or on deck.
    3. He pitches for at least three innings after entering the game with a lead.

If the pitcher surrenders the lead at any point, he cannot get a save, but he is the winning pitcher if his team comes back to win. No more than one save may be credited in each game.

If a relief pitcher satisfies all of the criteria for a save, except he does not finish the game, he will often be credited with a hold.

The third rule can be contentious, as it is subject to the judgment of the official scorer.

Save rules have changed over the years; the above rules are taken from the Official Baseball Rules 2004.

The save is defined in Section 10.20 of Major League Baseball Official Rules. The statistic was formally introduced in 1969, although research has identified saves earned prior to that point.

A blown save (abbreviated BS) is charged to a pitcher who enters a game in a situation which permits him to earn a save (a 'save situation'), but who instead allows the tying run to score. Note that if the tying run was scored by a runner who was already on base when the new pitcher entered the game, that new pitcher will be charged with a blown save even though the run (and earned run) will not be charged to the new pitcher, but rather to the pitcher who allowed that runner to reach base.

If that same pitcher also allows the winning run to score, as with any other similar situation, if his team does not come back to win the game, said pitcher will be charged with both the loss and a 'blown save.' The blown save is not an officially recognized statistic, but many sources keep track of them. Blown saves have been tracked since 1988. Once a pitcher blows a save, he is no longer eligible to earn a save in that game (since the lead that he was trying to "save" has disappeared), although he can earn a win if his team regains the lead. For this reason, most closers' records include few wins. Closers make the majority of their appearances with their team ahead, so a loss usually includes a blown save.

If a pitcher enters a game in a save situation (for a team leading by three runs or fewer) in an inning which is not the last (e.g. in a regulation 9-inning home game, pitching the top of the 8th), and his team later scores one or more run(s) to extend their lead beyond three runs, then as long as the same pitcher pitches until the end of the game, he is still credited with the save. As the various roles of relief pitchers have changed since the 1960s, closers who often pitch two or more innings have become increasingly rare; although exceptions remain.

A pitcher also cannot create his own save situation. For instance, if he enters the game with a lead too large for a save, he would not make himself eligible for a save by surrendering enough runs to contract the lead to within save range. It must be a save situation when he enters the game, or he will not be able to earn one.

Career saves leader in Major League Baseball[]

Single season record[]

See also[]