Yanks reliever Mariano Rivera couldn’t get a save Thursday night, but he did get a chance to say goodbye to the New York faithful.
NEW YORK — Mariano Rivera said goodbye to Yankee Stadium with hugs, tears and cheers.
Baseball’s most acclaimed relief pitcher made an emotional exit in his final appearance in the Yankees’ home pinstripes, when captain Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came to the mound to remove him with two outs in the ninth inning of a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.
“It’s time to go,” Jeter appeared to tell Rivera.
During four minutes of thunderous chanting from the sellout crowd 48,675, an overcome Rivera sobbed as he buried his head on the right shoulder of Pettitte, who also is retiring when the season ends Sunday. Pettitte gave Rivera and 30-second bear hug, and Jeter followed with a 15-second embrace.
Rivera, who turns 44 in November, said he had trouble controlling himself on the mound during the ninth inning for the first time since he left Panama and embarked on a professional baseball career in 1990.
“I was bombarded with emotions and feeling that I couldn’t describe,” he said after the game. “Everything hit at that time. I knew that was the last time. Period. I never felt like that before.”
Tampa Bay maintained a one-game lead over Cleveland in the AL wild card race and lowered to two its magic number over Texas for clinching a postseason berth. The Rays outscored the Yankees 19-3 during a three-game sweep.
Alex Cobb (11-3) took a one-hit shutout into the eighth, retiring 15 in a row between walks to Curtis Granderson in the second and Robinson Cano in the seventh.
“He’s probably the most competitive pitcher I’ve ever seen,” said James Loney, who had three hits.
Cobb wound up allowing three hits in seven innings-plus.
Evan Longoria hit an RBI single in the fourth against Ivan Nova (9-6) and a two-run single off Dellin Betances in the eighth. Delmon Young hit a long solo homer to left-center in the sixth.