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Mariano Rivera, AL win All-Star game

Posted: July 16, 2013 8:58 p.m.
Updated: July 16, 2013 8:58 p.m.

American League's Mariano Rivera, of the New York Yankees, reacts during the MLB All-Star game on Tuesday in New York.

 

NEW YORK — The greatest closer in baseball history made his way to the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning at Citi Field in the 84th Major League Baseball All-Star Game to the familiar thunder of an eager crowd and his Yankee Stadium walk-in song, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”

Then National League relievers left the bullpen and walked onto the warning track, applauding.

Then the American League dugout applauded, followed by the National League.

The A.L. players allowed him to take his first warmups alone — giving him the spotlight in the final season of his 19-year career.

A five-minute standing ovation from the 45,186 fans at Citi Field fans preceded Rivera doing what Rivera does — mowing down hitters — three up and three down.

Those are the enduring moments of the American League’s 3-0 victory over the N.L., snapping a three-game losing streak.

Rivera was named the Midsummer Classic’s Most Valuable Player.

“Amazing,” Rivera said of the experience. “I can’t describe it. I have no words for it. It’s been a wonderful night, the whole event. … I wasn’t expecting (the players’ reactions) at all. I wanted to come in and do my job. When I was crossing the field and got to the mound, first of all hearing my song that they play in Yankee Stadium, to hear that song at another stadium was great. Then I got to the mound and saw both teams on the side of the dugout cheering and applauding. It was amazing. It almost made me cry. I’ll never forget that.”

American League manager Jim Leyland was emotional in describing the events and his fondness for the 13-time All-Star, whose 638 saves are most all time.

“I actually kind of lied to the players before the game. I said, ‘I’m not a motivational speaker, but my motivation for tonight was to work our fannies off to get to the ninth inning and bring in the greatest closer of all time,” Leyland said. “I did lie a little bit, one inning.”

Leyland brought Rivera in in the eighth to make sure he got him in the game, saying he didn’t want disaster to strike in the eighth, therefore not being able to use Rivera.

The ninth inning was Minnesota’s Joe Nathan’s.

He surrendered a two-out double to Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, but closed out the game on a Pedro Alvarez pop-up.

That was one of only a few threats the N.L. mounted in an otherwise punchless game for them.

They had four base runners — three hits and a walk.

The A.L. threatened first.

After N.L. starting pitcher and New York Met Matt Harvey surrendered a leadoff double on the first pitch of the game to Los Angeles Angel phenom Mike Trout, his second pitch fastball to New York Yankee Robinson Cano struck the second baseman just above the right knee.

Cano stayed in the game for one more batter, then exited.

Harvey was clearly remorseful.

“Obviously, that was the last thing I wanted to do,” Harvey said. “When he then came off, obviously I apologized and made sure he was OK.”

Cano suffered a contusion to his right quad, and X-rays were negative.

However, there was still a lot of sock in the A.L. lineup.

Arizona pitcher Patrick Corbin came on to face the gauntlet in the top of the fourth inning — 2012 American League Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis — the man who tied the A.L. record for most home runs before the All-Star Break and baseball’s premier home run hitter since 2010 Jose Bautista.

Cabrera led off with a sharp double to right-center field. Davis singled to right off the glove of a leaping Joey Votto at first base. Then Bautista knocked Cabrera in with a sacrifice fly to give the A.L. a 1-0 lead.

Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee ran into trouble in the fifth, surrendering a leadoff double to Adam Jones, then a single by Joe Mauer.

With runners on first and third, J.J. Hardy grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Jones for the A.L.’s second run.

That’s more than the A.L. would need.

The National League’s three straight All-Star wins coming in, secured home-field advantage in the World Series each time. Each time a National League team won the World Series. Leyland was the latest victim with the San Francisco Giants sweeping his Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series.

He managed this game with urgency.

The telltale sign was the seventh inning when he used three pitchers to get three outs, the latter two — Toronto’s Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar — he used as lefty-lefty, righty-righty matchups after a David Wright single.

The A.L. added a run off Atlanta’s hard-throwing Craig Kimbrel, who surrendered back-to-back singles to start the inning.

Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis made it 3-0 with an RBI-double to left field.

Notes: Dodger Clayton Kershaw retired the three batters he saw in the third inning. Trout was 1-for-3 in the game.

 

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