Mariano Rivera steals show in last All-Star Game

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Mariano Rivera steals show in last All-Star Game

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NEW YORK – The 84th All-Star Game was played Tuesday night in New York City, in the borough of Queens.

But the script came straight out of Hollywood.

That much was undeniable as the American League shut out the National League, 3-0, with New York baseball legend Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of the game, coming out of the bullpen and getting three outs in his final All-Star Game.

The 43-year-old right-hander, a 13-time All-Star who will retire at season’s end, pitched the bottom of the eighth inning and was named the game’s MVP.

Rivera, whose 638 saves are the most ever, jogged onto the field with his familiar entry song, Metallica’s "Enter Sandman," blaring over the stadium loud speakers.

When Rivera reached the mound, he looked around and saw he was the only man on the field. His AL teammates waited in the dugout so Rivera could have the spotlight.

“We came up with that before the game,” AL outfielder Torii Hunter said. “We wanted him to get his due, to have him tip his hat. He’s a great guy. He’s done his job and never complained. We respect him. That’s what you do for a guy like that.”

As flashbulbs popped, Rivera lifted his cap to the crowd of 45,186 -- the largest ever at the ballpark -- and was saluted with a standing ovation. His AL teammates came out in front of the dugout and tipped their caps to him before taking the field.

Rivera was clearly moved by his teammates’ gesture. He did not know it was coming.

“The whole thing was amazing,” he said. “I have no words for it. It’s been a wonderful night. The only thing that will top this is the World Series.”

It was an All-Star sendoff reminiscent of the one Cal Ripken Jr. received in Seattle in 2001. In that game, Alex Rodriguez, the AL shortstop, moved to third base before the game’s first pitch so Ripken could get one more moment at shortstop, his original position in the major leagues.

Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, threw 16 pitches, and got the hold. The save went to Joe Nathan. AL manager Jim Leyland went to Rivera in the eighth because he didn’t want to risk the NL rallying against a different pitcher in the inning and eliminating the need for the bottom of the ninth inning.

It turned out to be a memorable moment for everyone.

With the victory, the AL gained home-field advantage in the World Series, no small matter considering the team with home-field advantage has won 25 of 32 World Series since 1980.

It was not a particularly good night for the Phillies’ representatives. Not only were Domonic Brown and Cliff Lee on the losing side, but neither performed well. Lee pitched an inning and gave up two hits and a run. Down 2-0 with a man on base in the seventh inning, Brown struck out on three pitches against Toronto lefty Brett Cecil (see story).

In the top of the eighth inning, with two outs, Brown appeared to misplay a ball off the bat of Jason Kipnis and it went for an RBI double.

Matt Harvey was the no-brainer starting pitcher in this game. The 24-year-old right-hander earned the assignment by going 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA and an NL-best 147 strikeouts before the break. While performance was the primary reason for Harvey’s selection as starter, there was an understandable sentimental reason: The All-Star Game was back at the home of the New York Mets for the first time since Johnny Callison won it for the NL in 1964. Harvey, of course, is the Golden Boy of the Mets and their future.

“People who haven’t seen him yet are going to see something pretty special,” Mets manager Terry Collins, a member of the NL coaching staff, said on Monday.

Harvey, who can heat his fastball up to triple digits, had some jitters early. Mike Trout, the pride of Millville, N.J., hit the first pitch of the game, a 97-mph heater, down the right-field line for a double. Harvey then plunked Robinson Cano of the cross-city Yankees on the right quadriceps muscle with a 96-mph fastball. Harvey settled down and got out of the inning on two strikeouts and a fly ball.

Cano was able to take first base after being hit on the right leg, but he left the game shortly after. As he walked across the diamond to the AL dugout, he looked at Harvey, who patted his chest as if to apologize and say, “My bad.” An X-ray on Cano’s leg was negative. Players always go home with a boatload of souvenirs from the All-Star Game. Cano’s souvenir was black and blue.

“Obviously that was the last thing I wanted to do -- to go out there and injure someone,” Harvey said afterward. “I think he understood it wasn’t intentional. I apologize.”

Harvey pitched two innings and allowed just the one hit while striking out three.

Phillies fans know all about Harvey. He has beaten the Phils twice this season, allowing just five hits and one run, while striking out 15 and walking just three in 13 innings. Harvey is scheduled to face the Phillies and Lee on Sunday at Citi Field.

Max Scherzer, the AL starter and 13-game winner from the Detroit Tigers, pitched just one perfect inning and threw 12 pitches.

The AL used 10 pitchers to complete the three-hit shutout.

But the night belonged to one pitcher -- Mariano Rivera.

Today's Lineup: Daniel Nava, Brock Stassi, Andrew Knapp all get starts

Today's Lineup: Daniel Nava, Brock Stassi, Andrew Knapp all get starts

Just mere hours after topping the Braves in dramatic fashion in the 10th inning, the Phillies will have a much different lineup take the field Sunday afternoon as they look for the sweep of Atlanta (see Sunday's game notes).

Daniel Nava, Brock Stassi and Andrew Knapp will all start Sunday's series finale.

Nava will bat fifth start in left field for the ailing Howie Kendrick, who's missed the last week with an oblique issue. Nava's sample size at the plate so far this season is small, but he's still 8 for 21 (.381 batting average) with two homers, two doubles and 7 RBI. So it makes sense that manager Pete Mackanin wants to get Nava some more at-bats.

Stassi bats sixth and gets the nod at first in place of Tommy Joseph, who had that odd sequence of events late in Saturday's win. First, Joseph had an ugly at-bat with the game tied in the ninth inning. Then in the top of the 10th, he caught a popped-up bunt and suddenly made an ill-advised throw to an empty third base, helping the Braves plate the go-ahead run. So today could be a day just to clear Joseph's head.

Both Nava and Stassi are left-handed bats against Braves righty starter Mike Foltynewicz.

Knapp will give Cameron Rupp the day-game-after-night-game breather behind the plate Sunday.

One note on Atlanta's lineup: Brandon Phillips, who drilled the game-tying homer off Edubray Ramos in the top of the ninth on Saturday, has been moved up to the second spot in the order for Sunday's finale.

Both teams' lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Aaron Altherr RF
3. Odubel Herrera CF
4. Maikel Franco 3B
5. Daniel Nava LF
6. Brock Stassi 1B
7. Freddy Galvis SS
8. Andrew Knapp C
9. Zach Eflin SP

Braves
1. Ender Inciarte CF
2. Brandon Phillips 2B
3. Freddie Freeman 1B
4. Matt Kemp LF
5. Nick Markakis RF
6. Kurt Suzuki C
7. Jace Peterson 3B
8. Dansby Swanson SS
9. Mike Foltynewicz SP

Phillies-Braves 5 things: Phils aim for first sweep of the season

Phillies-Braves 5 things: Phils aim for first sweep of the season

Phillies (8-9) vs. Braves (6-11)
1:35 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies and Braves played quite the game Saturday night. 

The teams went back and forth in the final two innings, culminating in Maikel Franco's walk-off single. What do they have in store for Sunday? Zach Eflin will take the hill for the Phillies opposite Mike Foltynewicz, a matchup of developing right-handers in their 20s.

Here are five things to know for Sunday's game.

1. Eflin back to form
Promoted to the majors at the beginning of the week, Eflin looked back to form in his first MLB start of 2017.

Eflin had the unfortunate problem of needing to rehab two knee surgeries this offseason, but clearly has not lost much in terms of his stuff. He looked a lot like the Eflin who produced five quality starts in a stretch of six appearances last summer, not the one who gave up 20 runs in his last 13 innings.

While he threw just five innings against the Mets, he limited New York to just two runs while working around six baserunners. Both runs came in the first inning and he retired 13 of his last 15 batters faced. 

The 23-year-old righty lives off his low-90s fastball and sinker while mixing in a slider and curveball. He was sinker heavy in his first start of 2017 and it was effective at Citi Field.

One of his best starts last season came against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Eflin needed just 92 pitches to throw a six-hit complete game with just one earned run allowed, a solo homer by Ender Inciarte. He didn't walk any Braves batters and struck out six in a quick game (2:08 in duration). Atlanta slugger Freddie Freeman went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and no batter got more than one hit.

2. Foltynewicz vs. the Phils
Foltynewicz hasn't had an ideal start to the season. His first start came in inclement weather vs. the Pirates, then he had to come out of the bullpen with a series of off days, which allowed the Braves to skip their fifth starter.

His most recent appearance came back in the rotation on Tuesday and he held his own against the Nationals, who were without a few key veterans but still had Max Scherzer on the hill. Foltynewicz held the Nats the just two runs over seven innings, scattering nine baserunners while striking out three batters. He walked four batters and has a paltry 8/7 K-BB ratio this year. 

In his three seasons with the Braves, the 25-year-old righty has a sub-optimal 4.85 ERA over 222 2/3 innings. However, his ERA got much better from 2015 to 16 (5.71 to 4.31) and his 4.26 ERA thus far in 2017 isn't half bad. 

Foltynewicz lives off his mid-90s fastball that has touched 97 this season. He mixes in a slider that draws a lot of groundballs, a sinker and a changeup. His velocity is down a little this season, which could explain his poor strikeout rate.

Folynewicz is 2-1 in four appearances against the Phillies in his career but has a 6.00 ERA, allowing five homers and 12 runs in 18 innings. Franco and Tommy Joseph each have one of those home runs while Odubel Herrera has three hits off the right-hander.

3. Ryan Howard: Braves minor leaguer
Believe it or not, Ryan Howard could be playing for another NL East team this year. The former Phillies slugger made his debut Saturday night for the Gwinnett Braves, Atlanta's Triple-A affiliate. 

Howard had himself quite a night, going 2 for 2 with two singles, an RBI, a hit-by-pitch and a walk, which was intentional. For someone signed so recently to a minor-league pact, it was an encouraging showing, although it's unlikely he'll be called up anytime soon.

There are two major obstacles to Howard making it back to the show with the Braves. The first is Freddie Freeman. With Freeman, the Braves already have a lefty slugger at first base for the foreseeable future. The other issue is Howard isn't on the Braves' 40-man roster. Atlanta has little incentive to add Howard to its 40-man because they're in full rebuild mode and need to prioritize their prospects.

Still, there may be something left in the tank for Howard. He still hit 20 home runs last season and was quite effective in the second half, particularly as a platoon bat. Even if the Braves ultimately don't need Howard, his opportunity in Gwinnett is a chance to audition for other teams as well. Veterans on minor-league deals often have opt-outs or could be granted their release if another team shows interest. 

If you're curious, Howard doesn't play Lehigh Valley, the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, until July 17-19 and doesn't play in Lehigh Valley until a week later.

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Freddy Galvis struck out twice on Saturday, but he also extended his hitting streak to six games with a double. It was just his second extra-base hit since April 7.

Braves: Freddie Freeman has raised his average to .400 on the season. His .400/.507/.850 batting line won't last, but he looks to have brought his game to another level this year.

5. This and that
• The Phillies are on a three-game winning streak, including two straight over the Braves. Despite finishing ahead of Atlanta in the standings in 2016, the Phillies lost their last seven games vs. the Braves last season.

• The Phils have won two extra-inning games in the last five days. They haven't done that since April 17 and 20 of last season.

• Aaron Altherr has a six-game hitting streak going and has raised his average to .379. He has doubled in consecutive games and has two hits in three straight games. For good measure, he's added stolen bases in two of Phillies' last three games.