NEW YORK -- On a night 43-year old Mariano Rivera gave the nation and his adopted hometown more goose bumps with a special moment in his final All-Star appearance, 20-year old Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez kicked off his career in style by joining rare company.
In all, it was definitely a night for great pitching as the American League ended a three-game slide in the MidSummer Classic by shutting out the National League 3-0 in front of a record crowd of 45,186 at Citi Field. It was the first time since 1990 the NL failed to score in the All-Star Game.
But that wasn't the story. It was Rivera, who took home MVP honors for the AL, who will now have home field advantage in the World Series for the first time since 2009 by virtue of their victory. That's the last time the AL won the Fall Classic -- with Rivera clinching the Yankees Game 6 win over the Phillies.
"As a team player you don't look for those things -- they just happen," Rivera said of earning the MVP award. "It's been a privilege."
By far the coolest moment of the night involved Rivera. Moments after 72-year old singer Neil Diamond came out and sang his classic Sweet Caroline for the crowd before the bottom half of the eighth inning, Rivera's infamous walkout song Enter Sandman by Metallica began blaring through the stadium's speakers.
Rivera, who has a major league record 638 career saves, came jogging in from the bullpen to a standing ovation from the crowd and both dugouts. Nobody from either team came out until he was done tipping his cap to each section of the crowd. Rivera said the moment almost made him cry.
"It was a cool thing that just happened," Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said afterward of why players decided to stay on the bench. "It was awesome man. Let him have the whole field."
Said Rivera: "It was amazing, a scene I will never forget."
Rivera retired Brewers shortstop Jean Segura, Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig and Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez in order and then walked off to another standing ovation.
"You're talking about one of the best closers in the game, one of the most respected guys in the game," said 21-year old Orioles third baseman and Miami native Manny Machado, who played in his first All-Star Game and was awed when Rivera stood up before his American League teammates and gave a pregame speech.
"For him to get up and speak -- especially for my first All-Star Game -- it's something I'll never forget. It was one of the best experiences of my life."
What was Rivera's message? "Just keep playing hard," Machado said. "and stay humble for the rest of your life."
Machado helped limit the National League to just three hits -- a fourth inning single by Cardinals veteran Carlos Beltran, a seventh inning single by Mets third baseman David Wright and a two-out double in the ninth by Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Machado made a nifty play to rob Goldschmidt of another hit in the seventh, when he backhanded a ball deep down the third base line and fired a near-perfect strike to first.
"It was just a regular routine play," Machado said with a smile. "I just made it look tougher."
The AL broke a scoreless tie in the fourth after reigning MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera ended a string of 18 retired hitters in a row between the teams with a double to the right field gap off the Diamondbacks' Patrick Corbin. After Chris Davis singled to right to put runners on the corners, Cabrera scored easily when Toronto's Jose Bautista hit a long sacrifice fly to center.