There was no use in pretending otherwise. Not after three straight blown saves for the first time in his 19-year career. Even Mariano Rivera admitted before Monday night's game that something was wrong with him.

"It's just the release of the ball -- it's not consistent" Rivera said. "When you're consistent the ball has sharper breaks. When you leave the ball up it basically does nothing. There's nothing there. There's no life."

In layman's terms Rivera felt like he was in a need of a tuneup which is why he sat down Monday with pitching coach Larry Rothschild for a mental refresher on the basics of his delivery. When that discussion was over Rothschild along with Joe Girardi decided that Rivera needed a night off.

"We just felt it was better" Girardi said after the Yankees' 2-1 win over the Angels. "Mo's never going to back out of a situation -- never. And that's where you have to manage the player and understand that sometimes they just need a day."
It was only the second time this season Rothschild and Rivera had a serious detailed chat about his mechanics and after Rivera served up a pair of homers Sunday Rothschild saw a few things worth talking about.

Rothschild noticed that Rivera's stride to the plate was off and likely was causing him to be erratic with his release point which then caused his pitches to stay up in the zone. In this case Rothschild expected Rivera to figure himself out during their discussion. "He usually self-corrects with just a conversation" Rothschild said. "He is really good at putting into words what he's feeling."

Physically Rivera says he's fine. At 43 coming off knee surgery he has plenty of built-in excuses for what's happened during his past three trips to the mound. Rivera has yet to lean on any of them.