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July 17, 2013

What You Need to Know

The AL Comes Up Aces

by Daniel Rathman


The All-Star Game Takeaway
The ninth Midsummer Classic played in New York City began with a glimpse at the future of the host club, the Mets, and ended with a tribute to a legendary member of the cross-town Yankees.

Matt Harvey, who somehow retained a good deal of anonymity despite a first half that should have made him the toast of town, tossed two scoreless innings for the National League. But his efforts, and those of every other hurler who toed the rubber for senior circuit, were in vain. By the time Mariano Rivera got the ball in the top of the eighth, the American League was up, 3-0. And neither Rivera nor Joe Nathan—the top two closers on the active saves leaderboard with 638 and 328, respectively—gave Bruce Bochy’s squad an opening to climb back in the final two frames.

Rivera faced three batters in his 14th and final trip to the All-Star Game, and he retired all of them, sandwiching an Allen Craig lineout between groundouts by the Brewers’ two All-Stars, Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez. With the clean, 16-pitch appearance, the 43-year-old Rivera left behind a near-flawless Midsummer Classic legacy: nine innings, one unearned run, five hits, no walks, five strikeouts, and this year’s Most Valuable Player award. While some questioned Jim Leyland’s risk-averse decision to have Rivera earn a hold in the eighth rather than a save in the ninth—lest the National League tee off against Nathan, Glen Perkins, or Steve Delabar—Rivera, gracious as always, praised the Tigers skipper for assuring him of a trip to the mound.

FOX color broadcaster Tim McCarver, for whom Wednesday also marked the end of an era, put his stamp on the contest by reciting the lyrics to the immortal entrance song used by the closer with whom he will leave the game.

The Deadspin link above takes you to a video clip in which Timothy Burke combined McCarver’s spoken-word Metallica rendition with another of the night’s most entertaining moments. Prince Fielder led off the top of the ninth inning with a triple that skidded past Gomez in right field, motoring around the bases for his first three-bagger since May 31, 2012. Fielder would not score, but the American League’s three-run advantage was plenty of cushion for Nathan, who notched two strikeouts while shutting the door.

Leyland’s bunch went down quietly in the second and third innings after a first-inning scare—for Harvey, who had to navigate through a two-on, no-out jam, and for the Yankees, whose most valuable position player, Robinson Cano, took a fastball from the Mets flamethrower off what appeared to be the side of the knee. X-rays showed only a quadriceps contusion for Cano, and Harvey escaped unscathed.

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