On Rivera's night, Joe Nathan gets save
Nathan was called on to pitch the ninth inning after baseball's all-time saves leader, Rivera, had pitched a perfect eighth inning. AL manager Jim Leyland elected to use Rivera, who is retiring at the end of the season, in the bottom of the eighth to make sure the 43-year old closer pitched in the game.
"I think we all wanted to see him in the ninth to be honest with you," Nathan told ESPN's Tim Kurkjian after the game. "I wanted to hear `Enter Sandman' in the ninth."
Instead, Rivera, who ended up as the game's Most Valuable Player, entered the game at New York's Citi Field to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd and both teams as Metallica's "Enter Sandman" boomed in the background. Leyland's thinking was that if the National League rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth against another AL reliever, Rivera wouldn't get to pitch.
That meant Nathan had to get the final three outs. Obviously it was a pressure situation for Nathan, who went to high school in New York and attended Stony Brook University.
"My heart has never beat so fast," said Nathan, making his sixth All-Star appearance. "I didn't know I was getting the ninth 'til the ninth."
Nathan came out throwing bullets. First he struck out St. Louis' Matt Carpenter looking. Then Nathan fanned Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen on a high fastball for the second out.
Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt then lined a double over the head of Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz. Nathan finished off the game going to a 3-2 count on Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez before getting him to pop out to second base to end the inning.
It capped an amazing night for Nathan, who might well have given his team home-field advantage in the World Series if the Rangers get there (they didn't have it while losing the Series in 2010 or '11).
Nathan also earned his first All-Star Game save on a night he figured Rivera would get it.
"I can't believe I got the ninth with that guy in the pen," Nathan said.
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