On September 11th, 2008, Angel closer Francisco Rodriguez tied former White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen’s 1990 Major League record of 57 saves in one season. Rodriguez tied the record in a home game against the Seattle Mariners one day after the Angels had clinched the AL West title.
It looked like Rodriguez was going to have to wait to tie the record because at the start of the ninth inning, the Angels had a 7-3 lead, and Scot Shields was on the mound. Shields had a shaky turn on the hill, however, and gave up singles to the first two batters he faced, and the potent bat of Ichiro Suzuki was up next.
Manager Mike Scioscia walked out to the mound and tapped two fingers on his right forearm to indicate he was bringing Francisco Rodriguez into the game for the save. Rodriquez responded by doing the seemingly impossible – he got the speedy Ichiro to hit into a double play. The next batter hit an RBI single, and the next batter after that hit another single to bring the tying run to the plate, but Rodriguez got Raul Ibanez to hit a grounder on the right side of the field. First baseman Kendrys Morales couldn’t get to it, but second baseman Sean Rodriguez put it in his glove and beat Ibanez to the bag to give Rodriguez co-ownership of the single season saves title.
Francisco Rodriguez would break the record in his next outing on September 13th and end up the season with 62 saves, a high water mark that still stands today. The feat helped Rodriguez finish third that year in Cy Young Award voting and sixth in MVP voting.