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BOSTON (AP) - If Mariano Rivera is going to get back to Fenway Park, the Yankees will have to be one of the AL’s wild card teams.
Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer and Daniel Nava had four hits as the Boston Red Sox eliminated New York from the AL East race with a 9-2 win Sunday night.
When the game turned into a rout, Rivera even took time to sign autographs for fans near the Yankees’ bullpen _ at one time, signing the back of a young boy’s Rivera No. 42 shirt.
And when he walked in from the bullpen after the final out, the remaining fans cheered.
A quartet of cellos played what was certainly the classiest version of “Enter Sandman” that ever graced a baseball diamond to start the ceremony before the final scheduled game at Fenway of his career.
The lengthy ceremony opened with the Red Sox needling the likely Hall of Famer for one of his career lowlights: the blown save in Game 4 of the 2004 AL championship series that allowed Boston to come back from a 3-0 deficit and advance to the World Series.
Highlights of the appearance _ one of just five postseason blown saves in his 19-year career _ were played on the scoreboard, with commentary from former Red Sox players Dave Roberts, Kevin Millar and Bill Mueller. Then the scoreboard flashed, “But seriously …” and the accolades followed.
“Yeah, I felt it. I feel it the whole series, the fans,” he said when asked if he felt respect the trio from 2004 had for him. “It was respect. Even the last hour in the bullpen, the fans standing up and clapping. It was great.”
Later, he even signed the bullpen wall.
“I can’t tell you (what I wrote),” he said, smiling. “I was giving things. Thank you!”
The entire Red Sox team waited for Rivera in the infield, and Boston slugger David Ortiz greeted him with a big hug. In keeping with the tradition of Rivera’s farewell tour, the Red Sox gave him a team-signed No. 42 that hung on the Green Monster’s manual scoreboard whenever he came in to pitch.
He was also given the pitching rubber from the visitor’s bullpen and a painting of him tipping his hat to the crowd during the 2005 ring ceremony.
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