Mariano Rivera spent time between innings talking with fans in the Fenway Park bleachers and signing autographs for them. They've all been through a lot together, and this — unless the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox meet in an unlikely playoff series — probably was his last game in Boston.
Rivera didn't get to pitch at all during the three-game set, which the Red Sox swept by beating the Yankees 9-2 on Sunday night. The Yankees, winners of the past two AL East titles and 13 of 17, were eliminated from winning the division.
Over three days in Boston, the most extensive time Rivera saw on the field was during batting practice and in a pregame ceremony Sunday. The Red Sox gave him a number of gifts, including a poem, but Rivera left something else of himself behind. A written message inside of the visitor's dugout:
Last to wear #42
Thank you for everything
Like most other things with Rivera, the message is simple, right to the point and gets the job done. Most of the other graffiti written by MLBers at Fenway probably can be found inside of the Green Monster.
Rivera, who announced he is retiring at the end of the season, said before the game he hoped to pitch at Fenway again. If he doesn't, he certainly has left his mark like few others. Via the Associated Press:
Including playoffs, Rivera was 15-7 with 64 saves and a 2.59 ERA in 127 games against Boston in his 19-year-career, starting with two innings of scoreless relief on Sept. 10, 1995. For him to face the Red Sox again — either at Yankee Stadium or at Fenway — both teams would have to make the playoffs.
‘‘Hopefully it’s not the last time,’’ Rivera said before the game, when the Yankees were 11½ games behind first-place Boston in the AL East and 2½ games out in the wild-card race. ‘‘We’re fighting for something. We want to get to the playoffs. I don’t have any thinking about myself.’’
The Yankees are three games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers for the wild card. The Red Sox are close to clinching the AL East title.