Another save, another record for Mariano
Rivera earns fourth All-Star Game save, most in history
ST. LOUIS -- Mariano Rivera didn't dare consider that he was protecting home-field advantage in the World Series for the American League. The Yankees' closer just did what he always does -- try to get three outs quickly and go home.
With a perfect ninth inning on Tuesday at Busch Stadium, Rivera secured a 4-3 victory for the Junior Circuit that will have important postseason ramifications. It was also Rivera's fourth All-Star Game save, moving him past Dennis Eckersley for the most in Major League history.
"I've said it time and time again -- nothing he does surprises me," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter. "It's just another thing to put on his Hall of Fame plaque, I guess. He just continues to do things that are impressive."
The 39-year-old Rivera shrugged amid the celebration last month, when he joined Trevor Hoffman as the only Major League pitchers to record 500 or more saves, so his reaction on Tuesday was predictable. For Rivera, it has always been about making sure his team comes out on top.
"It's another save," Rivera said. "We won, and that's the most important thing for me -- we won. Without the opportunity for my teammates, I could not accomplish it. It's all right, but we won."
Summoned on Tuesday after the AL took the lead on Curtis Granderson's eighth-inning triple and Adam Jones' sacrifice fly, Rivera made swift work of the Senior Circuit in a 13-pitch appearance, taking the advice delivered to him in a pregame visit by President Barack Obama.
"He was quite interesting -- he was wonderful," Rivera said. "He knew about the cutter, which was great. He said, 'Keep throwing that cutter.' Outstanding. I always wanted to meet him, and I thank God I had the chance."
Rivera, a 10-time All-Star, has allowed one unearned run in eight innings across eight appearances in the Midsummer Classic, including six scoreless innings in his past six appearances.
"The greatest closer of all time, closing out the All-Star Game," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "That's the way it's supposed to be. He's the best of all time, and I'm not afraid to say that."
The D-backs' Justin Upton rolled a ground ball to shortstop, the Rockies' Brad Hawpe went down looking at a nasty cutter on the outside corner and the Astros' Miguel Tejada popped harmlessly to second base to end the 80th Midsummer Classic.
"Those National League hitters, it's so tough for them," Teixeira said. "They don't see Mo, and when Mo is on top of his game, it's almost impossible to hit him. At the very least, guys that are in our division or the American League, they see him a lot and maybe can have comfortable at-bats. If you only see him once every four or five years, good luck."
A veteran of so many high-pressure postseason successes, Rivera said that the All-Star Game gave him no change in working atmosphere.
"It's not different," Rivera said. "I still have to do my job. I have to make sure that I get three outs before they score one run. That was basically the plan."
Rivera's save earned a victory for the Red Sox's Jonathan Papelbon, who had pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Papelbon -- who made waves last year in New York when he suggested perhaps he should close at the Yankee Stadium All-Star Game -- was reverential on the topic of Rivera.
"It was something that is pretty special, especially to me, because of the guy that closed it," Papelbon said. "Me being the winning pitcher and Mo saving that game was pretty neat and special. Things like that will probably be at the top of my memory list throughout my career, for sure."
The NL's final pitcher, Francisco Rodriguez of the Mets, also had admiring words for Rivera.
"You see how he goes out there and how he makes everything so easy, like it's not hard at all," Rodriguez said. "In reality, it is really difficult to be able to pitch in the ninth the way he pitches. He's an outstanding closer, and he's had a tremendous career. He's future Hall of Famer."
The final out was secured by second baseman Ben Zobrist of the Rays, who said of the ball, "Let's just say I have it in a very safe place."
Zobrist said that he would talk with Rivera about a potential deal to acquire the milestone memento.
Asked if he had contacted Zobrist yet, Rivera replied, "No, but I will. I will."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.