Cano exits early, Rivera wins MVP in first MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field
The American League captured a 3-0 victory over the National League Tuesday night, but perhaps the scariest moment of the game came just a few pitches in when Robinson Cano was hit just above the right knee by a 96 mile-per-hour fastball from Mets pitcher Matt Harvey.
Cano took first base after being hit, but left the game one batter later after Harvey stuck out Miguel Cabrera. X-rays were negative, and after being diagnosed with a right quad contusion, Cano was optimistic that he'd be able to play for the Yankees on Friday in Boston.
"I'm good…in the beginning, it felt real tight and I didn't want to aggravate it, so I came out of the game," Cano said. "I would say it's a bruise. I'll put ice on it for the next couple days and hopefully be good. I'm walking fine and I'm not in pain; it's just a little tight, and I don't feel nothing in my knee."
As Cano exited, Harvey appeared to gesture an apology to the Yankees second baseman, an action he confirmed while meeting with the media shortly after the injury.
"He said 'my bad' and I said 'no problem' because I know he doesn't want to hit anybody," Cano said. "It was just part of the game, so what can you do?"
"Obviously that was the last thing I wanted to do, was go out there and possibly injure somebody," Harvey said after exiting the game. "Obviously I apologized and made sure that he was okay; I think he understood that, you know, it wasn't intentional. We had called a fastball in there and I knew I had to get it inside, but obviously I didn't want to get in that much."
Cano said the trainers on-site talked to Yankees head trainer Steve Donohue, and the course of action will be ice and rest over the next 48 hours. He was disappointed that his 20-2013 All-Star experience lasted just three batters, but also reiterated that in the end, he didn't want to potentially exacerbate something that could have been nipped in the bud.
"Yeah of course; it's like any kid's dream come true to play in the All-Star Game, and I've been waiting for this moment for a long time," he said. "This is the All-Star Game, and you do it for the fans, but at the same time you have to be smart; you don't want to make something worse."
A little less than three hours after Cano's quick exit, Yankees fans saw a pleasant yet unfamiliar sight: Mariano Rivera entering a tight game to "Enter Sandman"…in the eighth inning?
Indeed, AL manager Jim Leyland made good on his promise to get Mo into the game, but he did so in the bottom of the eighth with the junior circuit clinging to their 3-0 lead.
"We talked about it right in batting practice, and (Leyland) told me he wanted to make sure that I pitch," Rivera said. "He said it depends on how the game goes, but if we were winning by one or two runs and I had a chance to pitch in the eighth (I would). That was the reason I pitched the eighth; anything can happen in baseball, and the decision was okay."
"I think you all understand that if something freaky would've happened and (the NL) took the lead, there possibly wouldn't have been (a chance for Rivera to pitch the ninth)…so that's why I did it," Leyland said. "I can't imagine how Joe Girardi feels bringing him in for the ninth; tonight was a pretty good feeling, but if anybody ever messed up Mariano Rivera, I can lay claim to that."
Regardless of the circumstance, when "Enter Sandman" hit moments after Neil Diamond finished a rendition of "Sweet Caroline," Rivera jogged onto an empty field and received a long standing ovation, emotionally tipping his cap and waving to the appreciative crowd.
"It's been a wonderful night, I have no words to describe it," Rivera said. "I wanted to come and do my job…to hear my song in another stadium, that was great, and when I got to the mound, I see both sides, both teams in the dugout, and it almost made me cry. It was amazing, a scene I will never forget."
And the inning mattered not, as while he didn't shatter any bats or record any strikeouts, Rivera did retire the side in order on 20 pitches. The 13-time All-Star finished his run by getting Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez to ground out to shortstop, and he exited his final midsummer classic with an all-time line featuring a clean 0.00 ERA, three saves, and one amazing farewell.
His performance was part of a dominant one by the AL staff as a whole, as the National League managed just three hits and one walk in the loss, and Rivera's family joined Commissioner Bud Selig on the field to award Mo the silver bat that comes with winning the Ted Williams All-Star Game MVP and hand him the keys to a brand-new, electric blue 2014 Corvette Stingray.
"You've represented this great sport so well, and it is a privilege to know you," Selig said as he handed Rivera the MVP Award, making him just the second Yankee (behind Derek Jeter in 2000) to receive it.
"I can't describe it…as a team player, you don't look for these things," Rivera said afterwards. "They just happen, or the Lord permits it. I'm honored and proud to be a member of the New York Yankees, and being able to play for this city and doing it the way I have done it. I am grateful for it."
And, in a season of farewell gifts to Rivera, Chevrolet also announced that they will pay for complete renovations to any youth baseball field in America of The Sandman's choosing. It's one last fitting piece of his legacy, perhaps, and one that can perhaps only be topped by one thing, according to Mo.
"I think that the only thing that will top this is the World Series; besides that, it has been outstanding, especially when you're not expecting it," Rivera said. "I wanted to pitch, and since this is my last All-Star Game, I wanted to enjoy and be able to pitch one last time…the rest was indescribable."
And, as he said, it's definitely, absolutely, positively his last All-Star moment.
"I don't have anything left, (I've given) everything I have," Rivera said when once again asked if he might re-consider retirement. "What you see is what you're going to get."