Mariano Rivera helped the American League end a three-year losing streak in his final appearance in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, combining with nine other pitchers to limit the National League to three hits in a 3-0 victory at New York’s Citi Field.
The 43-year-old Rivera, who’s said he’s retiring after the season, entered last night’s game in the eighth inning to a standing ovation -- from both fans and fellow players -- and retired all three batters he faced.
“It’s been a privilege,” Rivera told the crowd after receiving the All-Star Most Valuable Player trophy and a car in a post-game ceremony. “I couldn’t be more happy.”
While Rivera didn’t extend his All-Star record of four saves, he helped the AL finish off a win that gives its champion home-field advantage in the World Series.
Since MLB decided in 2003 that its All-Star Game would determine home-field advantage, the winning league is 7-3 in the World Series. That includes the last four champions. World Series participants with home-field advantage have won 25 of the past 32 titles dating back to 1980.
The AL, after losing 8-0 in last year’s All-Star Game in Kansas City and being held to a total of two runs over the past three years, scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings following leadoff doubles. Meantime, the NL’s three hits -- one by David Wright of the host New York Mets -- were just one more than the record low of two by the NL in 1990.
It marked the first time in the All-Star Game’s history, which dates back to 1933, there were back-to-back shutouts.
It was also the ninth All-Star Game held in New York, the most of any city. Tom Seaver, whose 198 wins are the most in Mets’ history, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and then turned the ball over to current Mets ace Matt Harvey, who started the game for the NL and allowed one hit over two scoreless innings, with three strikeouts.
The 24-year-old right-hander was the 11th pitcher to start an All-Star Game in his home ballpark and the first since Roger Clemens did it for the Houston Astros in 2004. Harvey was the youngest All-Star starting pitcher since former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden, who was 23 at the 1988 game.
“It being in New York and starting, as a kid I don’t think you could have dreamed of doing something like that,” Harvey said. “It was a tremendous honor.”
Harvey worked out of early trouble, as he allowed a leadoff double to Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout and then hit Robinson Cano near the knee with a pitch, forcing the New York Yankees’ second baseman to leave the game. Harvey, who leads the NL in strikeouts at the All-Star break, came back to strike out two of the next three batters, including Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, to end the threat.
The AL took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Cabrera led off with a double off losing pitcher Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks, moved to third on a single by Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Adam Jones of the Orioles led off the fifth with a double off the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cliff Lee, went to third on a single by Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins and scored on a groundout to give the AL a 2-0 lead. In the eighth inning, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez led off with a single and scored on a double by the Cleveland Indians’ Jason Kipnis.
Rivera, whose 638 regular-season saves are the most in baseball history, entered the game in the bottom of the eighth, jogging onto an empty field to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” Rivera received a standing ovation from the crowd of 45,186, while fellow All-Stars from both teams stood outside their dugouts and applauded him for more than a minute.
Rivera tipped his cap and gave gestures of thanks to both fans and players before retiring the side in order.
Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said the players’ tribute to Rivera was unplanned.
“We all just kind of did it together,” Hunter said in the AL clubhouse. “It was special. It was his moment. Yeah, we’re here for the All-Star Game and we’re happy, but Mariano is well respected in the game, not only for what he does on the field but for the person he is off it.”
Joe Nathan of the Texas Rangers, who once played for Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, pitched the ninth inning for the AL and allowed a two-out double by Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks before retiring Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates on a pop-up to end the game.
The AL, which had gone 12-0-1 from 1998-2009 before their recent skid, now holds a 44-38-2 lead in the series.