The Yankees lost 4-0 to Tampa Bay, but all anyone can talk about is Mariano Rivera’s final home appearance.
Rivera came in with 1 out in the 8th to thunderous ovation. But it was his exit with 2 outs in the 9th that will live on forever. The legendary closer watched with a smile on his face as long time teammates and Core Four brothers Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter came to the mound to take him out. He handed the ball to Pettitte, and just cried into his fellow pitchers arms. They say there’s no crying in baseball, but if the greatest closer in the history of the game wants to cry, you let him. And probably, as I did, cry right along with him.
The crowd showered him with several minutes of applause as Rivera shared an embrace with every teammate, before one final Yankee Stadium curtain call.
Lost in the love was a dominant performance from the Rays Alex Cobb in a game that meant a lot Tampa. They have yet to clinch a playoff spot. But even so, the Rays, who seem to be on hand for many Yankee moments (Jeter becoming the Yankees all-time hit leader and picking up number 3000), paid respect to Mo by letting him have his moment. They all gave him a standing ovation, showing that Rivera, is a figure that is and will always be greater than the game.
It may be one of the first and only times a Yankee Stadium crowd didn’t care that their team was shutout. Sure, one last save would have been the icing on the cake, but this team is tired, and with no playoffs to get ready for, this home stand was all about Mo. And everyone knew it.
So now the calendar reads 3. Just 3 more Major League games for Rivera, to be played in Houston. Fitting, since his friend Andy Pettitte will be exiting stage right along with Mo come the end of the season Sunday. The Astros are the only other team Pettitte has ever played for, and the Texas native makes his final start there Friday night.
Two legends, and another night Yankee and baseball fans alike shall not soon forget.