Sunday was a celebration of Mariano Rivera's career complete with family friends and former teammates. Thursday was a different type of night for the Yankees' legendary closer. Rivera made the final Yankee Stadium appearance of his career pitching the ninth inning in the Yankees' 4-0 loss to the Rays. It wasn't the save situation he had hoped for but one night after the Yankees were officially eliminated from postseason contention the sellout crowd of 48675 was treated to one last appearance from Rivera who will retire after the season concludes this weekend in Houston. Alex Cobb dominated the Yankees with seven-plus innings of three-hit ball while Ivan Nova allowed a pair of runs over seven frames. None of it seemed to matter to the home crowd. All that mattered was Rivera who received an ovation every time his face appeared on the scoreboard. Rivera received a rare shout out from the Bleacher Creatures who closed their nightly roll call with the chant of "Ma-ri-a-no!" before he tipped his cap from the dugout. The Rays took a 4-0 lead with two runs in the eighth against Dellin Betances and with runners at first and second and one out Joe Girardi called on the all-time saves leader to get out of the jam. Rivera jogged in from the bullpen as a recording of Bob Sheppard announced his entrance. The crowd stood and applauded - as did the Rays who emerged from their dugout to give the closer a standing ovation of their own. "Everything started shaking out there in the eighth inning" Rivera said. "It was different. The night was a little hard." Rivera retired Delmon Young on a fly ball to left then snagged Sam Fuld's comebacker to the mound stranding the two runners on base. Although the Yankees went down meekly in their half of the eighth the Stadium was electric with anticipation of one final inning from the beloved Rivera. As it turned out all they got were two outs as Joe Girardi sent Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte out to make a pitching change. Rivera grinned as he saw his two fellow Core Four members signaling to the bullpen but once they arrived at the mound the 43-year-old was overcome with emotion. "They both came to get me out and I was thankful they came out" Rivera said. "I needed them there and they were there." Rivera hugged Pettitte tightly and shed plenty of tears then hugged Jeter as he continued to cry. The crowd chanted Rivera's name as he walked back to the dugout tipping his cap the whole way. Girardi - with tears in his own eyes - greeted Rivera with a hug at the dugout followed by Tony Pena and Larry Rothschild Rivera made his way through the dugout and hugged every one of his teammates all of whom were standing and applauding. Rivera came out for a curtain call - something the fans would later get Pettitte to do as they chanted his name as the top of the ninth came to an end - soaking in every last moment. Rivera sat alone in the Yankees' dugout at the end of the game seemingly afraid to let the night end. He finally rose to his feet and came back on to the field surrounded by a throng of cameras before making a final trip to the mound where he crouched down and collected some dirt as a memento. While the Yankees were still playing for their postseason lives Sunday Thursday's game was a meaningless game at Yankee Stadium the first of its kind since the final day of the 1993 season. For Rivera it was the final time he would slip on the pinstripes in a competitive situation - Old Timers' Day won't count - as he made the last appearance of his career in front of the hometown crowd.
E-MO-TIONAL! Tearful goodbye for Mariano Rivera
New York Daily News | Sep 27