A night after the Yankees were eliminated from contention - missing the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years - it was a night for nostalgia. Rivera's 42 - he's the last player to wear Jackie Robinson's old number - was painted in foul territory in front of each dugout.
Rivera, who announced during spring training that this would be his final season, was given his first standing ovation of the night when he met with Yankees employees in the interview room across the tunnel from the Yankees clubhouse. He lingered on the field during batting practice, signing autographs for fans. And just before the first pitching, there was another set of presentations at home plate - a daily fixture during the final homestand.
Chants of "Mar-i-a-no!" began three pitches in. Fans cheered every time Rivera and Pettitte appeared on the center-field video board, and sustained "Mar-i-a-no!" chants resumed when he started warming up in the bullpen in the top of the eighth. Fans screamed "We want Mo!" after Longoria's single gave the Rays a four-run lead.
More honors are ahead this weekend, when the Yankees finish the season at Houston. The Astros plan a pregame ceremony Sunday that will include former New York manager Joe Torre and former Rivera teammate Roger Clemens.
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 SS Yunel Escobar (sore left ankle) was in the original starting lineup, then was scratched. He entered in the seventh inning. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon wasn't sure whether RHP Jesse Crain (right shoulder strain) will pitch during the rest of the regular season.