Throughout the stands, fans blinked back their own tears.
And after Rivera came off, Pettitte came out for his own curtain call as the Rays waited in their dugout, not wanting to interrupt the moment. Rays manager Joe Maddon is a longtime fan of Rivera's consistency, durability and quiet humility.
"They know how to do things here," he said. They're great at pomp and circumstance in this place."
After the last out, Rivera remained on the bench for a moment as Frank Sinatra's recording of "New York, New York" played. He paused before taking a last walk to the mound, a man alone, rubbing his feet on the rubber, kneeling and gathering a bit of his workplace as a keepsake.
"I wanted to get some dirt, just stay there for the last time, knowing that I ain't going to be there no more, especially pitching," he said. "Maybe throw a first pitch one year, one day. But competing — won't be there no more. So that little that I was there was special for me."
Rivera had entered with one out and two on in the eighth to a recorded introduction by Bob Sheppard, the longtime Yankees public address announcer who died three years ago.
Fans stood and chanted his name as he jogged in from the bullpen to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and continued for two minutes as he took his warmups. The entire Tampa Bay bench emptied and stood on the dirt warning track in front of the dugout and applauded.
Rivera was making his first appearance since the Yankees retired his No. 42 during a 50-minute ceremony Sunday. Eliminated from playoff contention, New York finishes the season with three games in Houston.
The oldest player in the major leagues, Rivera posted 314 of his record 652 saves at home during a 19-year big league career, and 18 of his record 42 postseason saves were at the old and new Yankee Stadium. He helped the Yankees to five World Series titles, getting the final out in four of them.
He'll always remember the home finale, along with the titles.
"It was amazing. A great, great night," he said and then paused. "We lost. I don't know how I'd be saying that."
NOTES: Matt Daley is sure to be the answer to a future trivia question — he was the pitcher who relieved Rivera. ... Rivera had not entered a game with the Yankees trailing by four runs or more since May 20, 2008, against Baltimore, according to STATS. ... The Yankees drew an AL-high 3,279,589, their lowest in five seasons at new Yankee Stadium and down from 3.54 million last year. Their average of 40,488 was their lowest since 40,346 in 2000, according to STATS. The Yankees had just seven sellouts. ... New York hit 75 home runs at Yankee Stadium, its lowest home total since 75 in 1997. ... Girardi wouldn't comment on an ESPN report that Cano, who is eligible for free agency, is seeking a 10-year deal worth a record $305 million. ... Bothered by sore legs, 3B Alex Rodriguez didn't play. ... Tampa Bay won its seventh straight and lowered to two its magic number over Texas for clinching an AL wild-card berth. The Rays swept this three-game series, outscoring the Yankees 19-3. ... Alex Cobb (11-3) took a one-hit shutout into the eighth, retiring 15 in a row between walks to Curtis Granderson in the second and Robinson Cano in the seventh. He wound up allowing three hits in seven innings-plus. ... Evan Longoria hit an RBI single in the fourth against Ivan Nova (9-6) and a two-run single off Dellin Betances in the eighth. Young hit a long solo homer to left-center in the sixth. ... New York has lost nine of 12, including four in a row, and at 82-77 will have its fewest wins in a non-shortened season since 1992.
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