Houston, TX – Mariano Rivera's 1 1/3-inning stint in the New York Yankees' home finale this past Thursday will be his last. The retiring closer announced Saturday that he will not appear in the team's remaining two games against the Houston Astros.
Rivera told reporters he was content with the way his outing ended in Thursday's 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay. Baseball's all-time saves leader retired all four batters he faced after entering with one out in the top of the eighth inning, then was removed with one out in the ninth and walked off to a thunderous ovation by the Yankee Stadium crowd.
Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, Rivera's longtime teammates in New York, were the ones to come out to the mound to take him out of the game. The three Yankee greats shared an emotional embrace before Rivera walked to the dugout in tears, then collected himself and went back onto the field to receive a curtain call.
"I know it was the perfect moment," said Rivera. "It was something I would have never expected."
Rivera had previously expressed a desire to play center field for an inning in the Houston series, an idea Yankees manager Joe Girardi was open to, but ultimately decided against it. The 43-year-old was concerned about how his right knee, which he had surgically repaired last season, would hold up in the field.
"If it would have been a few years earlier, I would have done it," he said. "Now my knee is not cooperating. I'm not going to make a fool of myself out there. I respect the game too much for me to do something that I'm not supposed to be doing."
Rivera ends his career with an MLB-record 652 regular-season saves and 42 more in postseason play over 19 seasons, all with the Yankees. The 13-time All-Star also ranks second all-time with a 2.21 earned run average and fourth in games pitched (1,115).