NEW YORK — When Mariano Rivera came out of the bullpen to pitch the eighth inning of the 84th All-Star Game on Tuesday night, his American League teammates stayed next to the dugout applauding.
They waited, leaving the great Yankees pitcher on the field alone to soak up the applause from the crowd of 45,186. Rivera is set to retire after 19 seasons in the game, universally respected for his accomplishments on the field and elegant comportment off it.
“I was standing right there watching,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “It was pretty cool. I had goosebumps the whole time. I’m sure a lot of people did.”
Rivera tipped his cap to all sides of Citi Field then started his warm-up tosses. Only then did the rest of the players take the field.
Rivera pitched a perfect inning, throwing 16 cutters. Catcher Salvador Perez threw an arm across Rivera’s shoulders as they walked of the field and first baseman Prince Fielder handed him the ball.
Perez was born in 1990, the same year the Yankees signed Rivera out of Panama.
The historic moment was part of a nearly flawless performance by 10 American League pitchers in a 3-0 victory against the National League.
The National League was held to three hits and a walk.
American League manager Jim Leyland used Joe Nathan to close the game instead of Rivera. After promising on Monday that Rivera would pitch, Leyland used him in the eighth inning to make sure.
“I don’t really have any words to describe how I felt,” said Red Sox righthander Clay Buchholz. “It was definitely something special.”
Rivera won the Ted Williams Award as the game’s most valuable player, the first pitcher to be so honored since Pedro Martinez in 1999. At 43, he also is the oldest player to win.
“I wanted to come to the game and since this will be my last one, I wanted to enjoy and be able to pitch for the last time in the All-Star Game,” Rivera said. “The rest was indescribable.”
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was 0 for 2 in the game. He flied to center field in the second inning and grounded into a double play to end the fourth inning. Pedroia was 0 for 2. He popped up to right field and struck out looking.
The Red Sox players had little impact on the game. But the Sox could benefit from the result of the game. The American League champions will now have home field advantage in the World Series.
“It’s pretty important to the team that’s going to be in the World Series. Hopefully it’s our team. It’s good to win that game,” Pedroia said.