NEW YORK — In the final All-Star game of Mariano Rivera’s distinguished career, who got the save for the American League?
“That could be a trivia question,” Joe Nathan said. “I’m sure everyone will get it wrong.”
Nathan had better not miss the answer, since he is the answer.
Rivera, the legendary New York Yankees closer, worked the eighth inning in Tuesday’s All-Star game, just in case there would be no bottom of the ninth inning. That left the ninth inning for Nathan, the Texas Rangers’ closer, who converted the save in the 3-0 AL victory.
Rivera congratulated Nathan on the save.
“That was awesome,” Nathan said.
In turn, Nathan gave Rivera the ball used for the last out.
“It was a no-brainer,” Nathan said. “I wanted it. I wanted to give it to him even more.”
Nathan laughed off the idea that Rivera, 43, could have gone six outs for the save.
“You don’t want to do that,” Nathan said jokingly. “He’s an old man.”
Torii Hunter tribute
Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland, the AL manager, made sure Rivera got a high-profile salute. Leyland also made sure Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter got a little-noticed salute.
Hunter played most of his career in center field, winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves from 2001 to 2009. He moved to right field with the Angels in 2011, making room for youngsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout in center field.
In the eighth inning, as Rivera took the mound, Hunter replaced Trout in center field.
“Jim set that up,” Hunter said. “He said, ‘I want you to play center field.’ It was pretty awesome.”
When Trout left the Angels’ clubhouse Sunday, Albert Pujols sent him off to the All-Star game with these words: “Go deep on the first pitch.”
Trout came close enough. He led off for the AL and doubled on the first pitch, a 97-mph fastball from Matt Harvey of the New York Mets.
“It was the first time I ever saw Harvey,” Trout said. “I knew he had some good off-speed stuff, and I just didn’t want to go deep into the count and get it.
“I just went up there hacking. Usually, I don’t swing at the first pitch.”
With that hit, Trout had reached base in all three All-Star game plate appearances. That streak ended in his next at-bat, when he flied out against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
Trout finished with one hit in three at-bats. Kershaw worked one perfect inning. In his three career All-Star appearances, Kershaw has pitched a scoreless inning every time.