NEW YORK — Jackie Bradley Jr. was born on April 19, 1990, about two months before Mariano Rivera pitched his first minor league game for the Yankees.
Their lives did not intersect until the top of the ninth inning on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Rivera needed one out to get the 609th save of his career and Bradley represented the tying run.
Three pitches later, the game was over as Bradley struck out and the Yankees had a 4-2 victory. The graying legend had bested the promising rookie.
“He really knows what he’s doing,” Bradley said.
Rivera threw Bradley three cut fastballs, his signature pitch. The first was inside and off the plate, but umpire Mike DiMuro called it a strike. Bradley fouled off the second one then took the third one, which was a little outside.
Bradley prides himself on knowing the strike zone. But DiMuro called him out and the Yankees exhaled, having avoided a three-game sweep.
“Too close to take,” Bradley said, his tone suggesting he had learned a lesson. “Too close to take.”
It was the first appearance for Rivera since undergoing knee surgery last May and missing the remainder of the season. He inherited a 4-1 lead from fellow throwback Andy Pettitte and walked Dustin Pedroia.
Mike Napoli popped out but Jonny Gomes doubled down the line in left field and Pedroia went to third. Will Middlebrooks, facing Rivera for the first time, grounded to second and a run scored. Then Bradley had his chance with Gomes on third.
“We did a good job of coming back,” Sox manager John Farrell said.
• Stephen Drew started at shortstop for Double A Portland and played five innings in the first of what the Red Sox are planning on being a four-game rehabilitation assignment. Drew suffered a concussion on March 7. He drove in a run with a ground out in his first at-bat. He then lined to shortstop and struck out. The Sox are hopeful that Drew will rejoin the team for the home opener on Monday.
• David Ortiz was not at Yankee Stadium for the game. He returned to Fort Myers, Fla., and is expected to go through base-running drills on Friday. He remains scheduled for an extended spring training game on Monday.
• Lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales threw a 25-pitch live batting practice on Wednesday in Fort Myers. He is coming back from a strained lower back and the Red Sox plan to stretch him out to be used as a starter, if needed.
• Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow (shoulder) is throwing in the bullpen in Florida. His rehabilitation assignment has not yet been scheduled.
• For the final time, Mayor Thomas M. Menino will visit Fenway Park on Friday to view improvements made during the offseason and taste new menu offerings. The event has been an annual one for Menino.
• Players on both teams were wondering why the Yankees scheduled a night game when they face the Tigers at 1:08 p.m. in Detroit on Friday.
• Rivera has played in parts of 19 seasons for the Yankees, a franchise record he will share with Derek Jeter once the shortstop returns from the disabled list. Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle held the old record of 18 seasons.
• The Sox have yet to hit a home run. The last time they started the season with three homer-less games was in 1993, when they went five games before hitting one.