It was the perfect ending to Mariano Rivera’s final All-Star Game

The New York Yankees closer, perhaps the best relief pitcher of all time, won the Most Valuable Player award after retiring the side in order in the eighth inning of the American League’s 3-0 win on Tuesday night in New York.

It might have been even better if AL manager Jim Leyland sent Rivera to the mound to close out the game in the ninth. But Rivera wasn’t complaining.

“I think the plan was perfect,” Rivera said.

Rivera received a standing ovation from fans and players at Citi Field as he entered the game from the bullpen. He doffed his cap in return.

“It was special,” said Rivera, who is Major League Baseball’s career saves leader. “Seeing the fans sharing and both teams standing out of the dugout – managers, coaches, players. Priceless.”

Leyland didn’t want to wait until the last inning to put Rivera in the game.

“I just couldn’t take any chance,” Leyland said. “I wanted to make sure I got out of here alive.”

The 13-time All-Star became just the seventh pitcher to win the All-Star Game MVP award. And at the age of 43, Rivera is the second-oldest hurler to appear in the Mid-Summer Classic, behind Satchel Paige, who was 47 in the 1953 contest.

Rivera finished with a spotless record in his All-Star career. He didn’t allow an earned run in nine innings pitched.

Colon keeps winning: Bartolo Colon is 40 years old, but he’s pitching like he’s in his 20s. The Oakland Athletics right-hander won again on Sunday to improve his record to 13-3.

He threw a four-hit shutout, his third of the season as the A’s beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 on Sunday. Colon had five strike outs and walked one batter as his ERA dropped to 2.52.

“He’s a competitor,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He loves to play the game. He’s always in a great mood, and he’s in an even better mood on the day he’s pitching.”

Colon, an All-Star for the American League squad this year, is 10-1 with a 1.46 ERA over his last 12 starts. His complete game on Sunday was the 35th of his career.

“It seems like he’s dipped into the fountain of youth,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s throwing the ball as well as he was 10 years ago, and there’s obviously been a resurgence in his career.”

Colon is pitching for his seventh major league team. He began his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1997. He also pitched for the Angels from 2004-07. Colon is having his best year since going 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA in 2005 with the Angels.

In August of 2012, Colon was suspended for 50 games for violating Major League Baseball’s drug program. He has also overcome numerous injuries.

But despite the setbacks, Colon just keeps on pitching, and seems to get better with each outing.

StatsWatch: Major League Baseball’s wins leaders, through July 21 -

  • — Bartolo Colon, A’s, 13
  • — Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, 13
  • — Max Scherzer, Tigers, 13
  • — Matt Moore, Rays, 13
  • — Jordan Zimmerman, Nationals, 12
  • — Chris Tillman, Orioles, 12
  • — Felix Hernandez, Mariners, 11
  • — Justin Masterson, Indians, 11
  • — Lance Lynn, Cardinals, 11
  • — Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks, 11

Diamond Notes: New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez won’t make his season debut this week. Rodriguez, who has missed the entire regular season following hip surgery, will stay on the disabled list with a left quadriceps strain. “I am extremely disappointed with the results of the MRI and hoping to be back as soon as possible and continue with my goal of coming back and helping the Yankees win a championship,” Rodriguez said in a statement…Mets’ pitcher Matt Harvey threw a fastball that averaged a career-best 97.4 mph in Sunday’s win over Philadelphia.

Copyright ã 2013 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.


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