NEW YORK (AP) — Mariano Rivera was all set up to save his final All-Star game — or so it seemed.
Jim Leyland just wasn't about to take that chance.
Summoned in the eighth inning to make certain he would pitch, Rivera soaked up a 90-second standing ovation and got three straight outs while helping the American League to a 3-0 victory over the National League on Tuesday night at Citi Field.
"I think the plan was perfect," said Rivera, who took home the MVP trophy.
Rivera reported early for work and the New York Yankees' indomitable closer combined with nine other pitchers on a three-hitter as the AL snapped a three-game skid and regained home-field advantage in the World Series. Joe Nathan saved it in Rivera's place after the American League scratched out a pair of runs and got an RBI double from Jason Kipnis.
Leyland, the AL manager, had promised Rivera would pitch. So rather than risk waiting for a save opportunity that might never come, the Detroit Tigers' skipper made his much-awaited call one inning earlier than Rivera is accustomed, just in case of "something freaky."
"If anybody ever messed up Mariano Rivera, I can lay claim to that," Leyland said. "I just couldn't take any chance. You know, I'm probably not the most popular manager in baseball. I wanted to make sure I got out of here alive."
Robinson Cano hobbled off early after getting hit by a pitch from crosstown rival Matt Harvey of the host Mets. X-rays were negative and Cano said he shouldn't miss any games for the Yankees.
Harvey and opposing starter Max Scherzer were among a record 39 first-time All-Stars in a game that featured four precocious players 21 or younger — baseball's next generation.