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Dennis Eckersley rooted for Fernando Rodney

Dennis Eckerlsey was cheering on Fernando Rodney as the Rays pitcher closed in on his ERA record.

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Dennis Eckersley rooted for Rays closer Fernando Rodney to break his reliever ERA record of 0.61, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Set in the 1990 season, Eckersley allowed five earned runs over 73⅓ innings in 63 games. Rodney edged over his mark by allowing only five runs in 74 innings over 76 games. The two men converted an equal number of save opportunities, 48 out of 50, in their respective record years. Eckersley told the Times he was happy for Rodney:

"I was happy for him. It goes to show how tough it is. And no one would have gave a (darn) until that happened, then people say, he did that once. So at least I got some attention for something that happened so long ago. I don't think anyone even knew. So he should be proud of it. That is a great year. What it is is being good and a little lucky, which you have to be. And that makes for magic."

The record had for years seemed out of reach. Mariano Rivera's 2005 mark of 1.38 and Eric Gagne's 2003 1.20 were some of the strongest performances in recent years, neither particularly close. Eckersley retired after 24 years in the big leagues with a career ERA of 3.50. Rodney, who set the record in his 11th season, has a career ERA of 3.75. He finished the 2012 season with career highs in saves (48), WHIP (0.78) and a career-best 76-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

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Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.