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July 17, 2013

AL shuts down NL in All-Star Game

(Continued)

Both came out throwing 99 mph heat, but it was Rivera, at 43 the oldest All-Star since Carlton Fisk in 1991, who was the center of attention in his farewell season. And on this night, with drug suspensions still looming for some of the game's biggest names, the spotlight found a player who is almost universally respected.

Baseball's career saves leader came in from the bullpen to Metallica's "Enter Sandman," just like across town at Yankee Stadium, and was left alone on the field to take in a stirring ovation.

"It was a great moment. He is one of the best pitchers that's ever played this game," Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said.

All-Stars on both sides clapped from the top of the dugout steps, and Rivera tipped his cap to the crowd.

Then he went to work, retiring three straight hitters on 16 pitches — all cutters, as usual — before walking off to another ovation and receiving a hug from Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

"It was tough. It was special," an emotional Rivera said. "Seeing the fans sharing and both teams standing out of the dugout, managers, coaches, players — priceless."

Exit, Sandman.

Next stop, the Hall of Fame.

The game's greatest reliever, quiet and humble by nature, addressed his AL teammates before they took the field. He made it quick, just like his outing. Most of them, actually.

"What I said was that I was honored and it was a privilege for me to play with all of them for so many years," Rivera said.

The lengthy cheers provided a fitting tribute and the latest salute to Rivera, set to retire after this season. The 13-time All-Star is on something of a farewell tour, receiving creative gifts at each opposing ballpark he visits for the final time.

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