Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees pitches a perfect eighth inning during Tuesday's Major League Baseball All-Star baseball game. He was later named Most Valuable Player.
Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees pitches a perfect eighth inning during Tuesday's Major League Baseball All-Star baseball game. He was later named Most Valuable Player. Kathy Willens/AP
New York Yankees' great Mariano Rivera, pitching in his final All-Star game, was honored by fans at the home of the crosstown Mets, then pitched a perfect eighth inning to help the American League to a 3-0 victory over the National League in Tuesday's All-Star game.
The win means the team representing the American League will host this year's World Series.
The game was scoreless into the fourth inning, when the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera scored on a sacrifice fly to give the American League a 1-0 lead. In a game dominated by pitching, the American League added runs in the fifth and eighth inning, and 10 of its pitchers held the National League lineup to only three hits.
The crowd at the New York Mets' Citi Field in Queens gave Rivera an extended standing ovation before the bottom of the eighth, while his fellow All-Stars gave him the field alone for some 90 seconds in appreciation. Rivera, 43, the Major League's all-time saves leader, playing in his final season, retired the side on 16 pitches. He was later named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Rivera's moment illustrated the odd mix of pageantry and competitive importance that sets baseball's all-star exhibition apart from those of other American sports.
After a controversial 2002 game — which ended in an 11-inning, 7-7 tie when the teams ran out of eligible pitchers — Major League Baseball instituted the equally controversial rule that the annual Midsummer Classic would determine home field advantage in that fall's best-of-seven World Series.
Before 2003, the team with the best regular season record got home field advantage, considered an important competitive edge. Teams with that advantage are 7-3 in World Series over the past decade.
While Rivera was the second oldest pitcher ever in an All-Star game, according to The Associated Press, one of the game's youngest stars — Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Angels' 21-year-old center fielder — began the game by turning its first pitch into a double down the right field line, which he punctuated with a headfirst slide into second base.
National League starter Matt Harvey of the hometown Mets then faced Yankees' second basemen Robinson Cano, and hit him on the right knee with a fastball. Cano walked to first base, but left the game before the end of the inning. He later told a Fox TV interviewer that he expected to be cleared to play later this week.
Harvey followed his shaky start by striking out Cabrera — last year's Triple Crown winner who brought a .365 average into the game — and escaped the first without giving up a run.
It was only the ninth shutout in the All-Star game's eight-decade history, and the first time it's happened in consecutive years, following 2012's 8-0 National League victory.