Heading into their series finale Wednesday night in Houston, Mesa has been there to close out each of the Bucs' first nine victories. No other pitcher in big league history had ever saved more than each of their team's first five games to begin a season.
In recognition of Mesa's reliability in April, when he earned saves in each of his first eight opportunities, Mesa was selected as the "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Deliveryman of the Month Award" for April.
"I'm happy to be the first one," said Mesa. "We only have nine wins and I've been pitching every six or seven days, so every time I go out there I've got to do my job. I'm just happy to have the opportunity to do my job."
Mesa is the first-ever winner of the officially-sanctioned MLB award, which recognizes the outstanding relief pitcher during each month of the regular season. The award is part of a new sponsorship agreement between Major League Baseball , Major League Baseball Advanced Media, and DHL, the world's leading express delivery and logistics company, making DHL the "Official Express Delivery and Logistics Provider" of both organizations.
Mesa was quick to share credit for his early-season success with his teammates.
"Any time you can accomplish something in your career and get an award, it's a good thing to happen for you and your team," said Mesa. "I always say that if the guys in front of me don't do their job then I'm not going to be able to come in in the ninth and close it out. Any award you get goes to the team and to the bullpen."
Mesa allowed just one earned run in his eight April appearances. On April 27, the 38-year-old became first Dominican-born player, third Latino player, and 19th pitcher in Major League history to amass 300 career saves.
Since joining the Pirates as a free agent in 2004, Mesa has gone 52-for-57 in save opportunities. He has converted each of his last 19 save opportunities dating back to last season.
"Jose has been very dependable," said Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon. "He's done a tremendous job in the year-plus that he's been with us."
Among those responsible for the selecting the "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award" winner are Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley, Hall of Fame writer and official MLB Historian Jerome Holtzman, former pitcher and current broadcaster Rick Sutcliffe, and MLB Vice President of On-Field Operations Bob Watson.
DHL will donate $1,500 to a local chapter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the official charity of Major League Baseball, in Jose Mesa's name. Mesa will also be recognized in a special advertisement appearing May 5th in USA Today.
At season's end, fans will be given the chance to decide which relief pitcher had the best overall year through the "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award." A list of finalists will be selected based on statistical qualifiers and fans will be able to vote for the winner online at MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball. The "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award" will be presented during the Major League Baseball postseason.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less