Did Jim Leyland make right call by having Mariano Rivera pitch the 8th inning?

Mariano Rivera salutes the crowd.

Mariano Rivera salutes the crowd.

Mariano Rivera had a great show at the All-Star Game. He had a 1-2-3 inning in his final All-Star Game appearance. He won the Game MVP and the crowd gave him a tremendous standing ovation when he entered and exited the game. It was beautiful.

The only thing different about this than what he’s been doing most of his career is that this happened all the in the eighth inning. The best closer in the history of the game did not close the game. He came in to set up Joe Nathan in the ninth. Manager Jim Leyland had to have had a good reason for this, right?

Normally in any situation, Rivera would pitch the final inning to get the save. The situation, however to Leyland was a little different. Entering the eighth inning, the American League was up 2-0 and Leyland must have thought that the National League might have a chance to take the lead at the bottom of the inning, thus eliminating the save situation. Rivera was told to warm up.

Instead of warming up both Rivera and Joe Nathan, Leyland stuck with just Rivera to warm up. The American League added another run, making it 3-0. Had Nathan been warming up, he would have entered and Rivera would be saved for the next inning.

I understand with Leyland’s thinking. But Rivera had to close this game. I thought there was a chance to get Nathan warmed up since Neil Diamond sung horribly in the middle of the inning, delaying the process of the game. But that wasn’t the case. Rivera came in, received a great ovation and pitched a perfect inning.

Leyland should have saved Rivera for the ninth. I understand why he was brought in an inning early, but the ninth is Rivera’s time to shine and his opportunity to punctuate the All-Star Game with a save.

But the point is moot though. Rivera won the MVP award and the American League won. I just wonder what it would have been like for Rivera to record the final out. We’ll never know.

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