Matt Harvey pitches two scoreless innings, Mariano Rivera MVP as AL shuts out NL
On one electric night, on the same remarkable stage, one New York superstar wrote the latest line of the final chapter of his career while the other added onto what has already been a wonderful beginning.
In his final All-Star Game, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was nearly moved to tears before working a scoreless eighth inning. And in his first, Mets righthander Matt Harvey started and pitched two scoreless innings for the National League.
In the end, the American League scored a 3-0 win Tuesday night in the 84th Midsummer Classic, ending the NL's winning streak at three. But the score was only incidental on a night when Harvey announced his emergence and Rivera said his goodbyes.
Jim Leyland promised he would get Rivera into the game, and leading 3-0 in the eighth, he did. Rivera jogged out to "Enter Sandman,'' and with the Bronx anthem blaring in Flushing, both dugouts stood in tribute.
"Everything has been a surprise this night,'' said Rivera, who was named the MVP.
The Mets' David Wright was 1-for-3 as the NL managed just three hits and the AL scored on a sac fly and a groundout. It was the lowest-scoring All-Star Game since 1990, a 2-0 AL win.
Harvey dazzled an announced crowd of 45,186, the largest ever at Citi Field. With his fastball topping out at 99 mph, he tossed two scoreless innings before giving way to Clayton Kershaw.
"This whole experience has just been breathtaking,'' said Harvey, the first Mets pitcher to start an All-Star Game since Doc Gooden in 1988.
Harvey's night didn't pass without one hiccup. The Yankees' Robinson Cano took a 96-mph Harvey fastball off his right quadriceps. Cano left the game after Miguel Cabrera's strikeout for the second out.
"I know he didn't want to hit anybody on purpose. It's part of the game, what else can you do?'' said Cano, who was diagnosed with a right quad contusion.
As Cano exited, he passed Harvey on the mound. They exchanged friendly words. "My bad,'' Harvey said, according to Cano. "No problem,'' he replied.
"Once I let it go, I could kind of feel it, that I cut it a little bit,'' said Harvey, who wanted to throw an inside fastball. "I was hoping he was going to be able to get out of the way. But unfortunately, he didn't. It definitely was not intentional.''
The wayward fastball to Cano came after a double by Mike Trout, who lined the game's first pitch down the rightfield line. Harvey worked out of it unscathed, then threw a perfect second. He allowed one hit and showed no signs of blister problems that forced the Mets to scrap his final first-half start.
Once more, he offered flashes of dominance. Consider Harvey's three strikeouts.
First, a 92-mph slider left Miguel Cabrera no other choice but to chase. Two batters later, another 92-mph slider finished off Jose Bautista.
With one out in the second and the count full, Harvey fired a 98-mph fastball high in the strike zone. An overmatched Adam Jones flailed at it, nearly losing his footing. Joe Mauer lined out and Harvey's evening was complete. He walked head down to the dugout to an ovation that grew louder with every step.
"I'm used to walking off in the second inning and going back out there, so I didn't really pay attention to it,'' Harvey said. "I wish I had kind of stayed in the moment a little bit and gave a head nod or whatnot. But the thanks was there, and they have been great all year, the fans. I'm very thankful.''
All through the All-Star proceedings, Wright has taken seriously his role as the event's de facto host, which is why he approached Rivera privately earlier in the day to honor the closer.
"I don't feel intimidated too often and it's intimidating talking to Mo,'' said Wright, who stuttered, then collected himself enough to "thank him for just being so good for the game.''
A few hours later, the game's greatest players followed Wright's lead. A clearly moved Rivera climbed the mound through a rousing ovation, tipped his cap toward both dugouts, then realized he and his catcher were the only ones on the field. The AL squad stayed in the dugout, yielding the stage to the 43-year-old who will retire at season's end.
"Amazing,'' Rivera said. "Can't describe it. I have no words for it.''