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EXIT SANDMAN: RIVERA GETS SOLO BOW AS AL BEATS NL

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 07:11 Published in Sports
NEW YORK (AP) -- The great ones get the stage to themselves.

Mariano Rivera was held in the bullpen out in right-center field until Neil Diamond had sung the final words of "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of the eighth inning during Tuesday night's All-Star game.

And then the opening notes of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" - his Yankee Stadium theme song but unfamiliar on the road - rang out over the public-address system as the greatest reliever of all-time jogged toward the mound. The record crowd of 45,186 gathered at Citi Field on this humid summer night rose and cheered, knowing this was a moment people will remember much more than the American League's 3-0 victory.

Quiet, reserved and understated during nearly a quarter-century in a sport that took him from Panama to the pantheon of pinstriped pitchers, Rivera was being honored with that rarest of baseball tributes - a solo bow.

As he reached the brown circle in the center of the green diamond, Rivera realized he was the only person on the field.

Sinatra. Springsteen. The Mick - Jagger and Mantle. They all got to stand in the spotlight alone. And now it was Rivera's turn.

He took off his cap, waved it to all sides of the ballpark. He touched his hat to his heart.

His AL All-Star teammates stood by the third-base dugout rail and applauded, just like the fans. So did his NL opponents on the first-base side. With no other players in fair territory, he finally started tossing his warmup pitches to catcher Salvador Perez.

Like Ted Williams at Boston's Fenway Park in 1999 and Cal Ripken Jr. at Seattle's Safeco Field two years later, one man transcended all the rest of the gathered talent.

"You're supposed to know your team is behind you," Rivera said. "I didn't know what to do. Just keep throwing the ball, I guess, because it was so weird."

And then, after a 90-second standing ovation, eight AL position players came on the field. Normalcy resumed. Rivera threw 16 pitches - all cutters - and retired Jean Segura, Allen Craig and Carlos Gomez, sending the side down in order the way he has so many times before.

"He still can pitch for three or four more years. He's the best," Gomez explained. "After I got to the dugout, I say I'm going to be history because I'm the last guy Mariano got out in the All-Star game."

Rivera then walked to the dugout to another standing ovation and was given a hug by Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

"It's kind of surreal for me," Verlander said. "I just wanted to give him the respect and the respect that he deserved, I just happened to be standing out there and I was the first one he came to. That's something that I will never forget."

AL manager Jim Leyland decided to pitch Rivera in the eighth instead of the ninth, worried that if the NL somehow rallied Rivera might not get into the game.

"I just couldn't take any chance," Leyland said. "You know, I'm probably not the most popular manager in baseball. I wanted to make sure I got out of here alive."

Rivera has never allowed an earned run in nine All-Star innings. The only older pitcher to appear in an All-Star game was 47-year-old Satchel Paige 60 years ago, according to STATS. At 43, Rivera was the oldest All-Star since Carlton Fisk in 1991.

Of course, he was selected the All-Star MVP. Never having had a chance for a talk, Mets star David Wright pulled Rivera aside at baseball's red-carpet event before the game.

"Before it was too late, I had enough courage to kind of go grab him and just tell him how much I appreciate his body of work, the way he carries himself, how great of an ambassador he is to this game," Wright said. "Forget about the numbers. Forget about being the greatest closer of all-time. The way he carries himself and the way he goes about his business is special."

After the game, still smiling, sometimes laughing, Rivera spoke in the interview room as his family stood behind him.

"It was tough. It was special," an emotional Rivera said. "Seeing the fans sharing and both teams standing out of the dugout, managers, coaches, players - priceless."

Jose Bautista's fourth-inning sacrifice fly off loser Patrick Corbin stopped a 17-inning scoreless streak for the AL that dated to Adrian Gonzalez's homer off Cliff Lee two years ago in Arizona. J.J. Hardy added an RBI groundout in the fifth, and Jason Kipnis doubled home a run in the eighth off Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel.

Rivera and nine other pitchers combined on a three-hitter, with Chris Sale getting the win. Joe Nathan worked the ninth, handing the final ball to Rivera as the AL ended a three-game losing streak and regained home-field advantage in the World Series.

So even when the Mets hosted the All-Star game for the first time in 49 years, the spotlight fell on a rival Yankee.

Hours after the game, a video board at Citi Field reminded people the All-Stars will gather next year at Minnesota's Target Field.

But the great Rivera won't be among them.

"It's been a privilege," Rivera said to the crowd, speaking on the field after the game. "You guys almost made me cry."

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

NL BATTERS NO MATCH FOR AL'S HEAT

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 07:06 Published in Sports
NEW YORK (AP) -- One by one they came out of the bullpen, hard throwers on a mission to shut down many of baseball's top hitters.

Max Scherzer and Chris Sale. Felix Hernandez and Matt Moore.

Heat and more heat.

Even with its own studs such as Matt Harvey and Clayton Kershaw, the National League couldn't match up. The AL's 3-0 victory at Citi Field on Tuesday night was an arms showcase.

"We all came tonight and we brought it," Scherzer said. "You got guys who just can absolutely light up a radar gun, but not only that, throw multiple offspeed pitches for strikes."

It was just the third shutout for the AL, following 1946 at Boston's Fenway Park and 1990 at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Scherzer, throwing at up to 99 mph, pitched a 1-2-3 first. Sale followed with a pair of perfect innings, reaching 96 mph.

Six up. Six down.

Against baseball's best.

"I don't think I've been a part of a baseball experience like that in my entire life," Sale said.

The rest weren't shabby either, with Greg Holland topping out at 97 and Grant Balfour at 95. Matt Moore, Steve Delabar and Joe Nathan all reached 94, Brett Cecil 93 and Felix Hernandez 92, throwing sinkers on nine of 13 pitches.

Mariano Rivera threw 16 pitches, all cutters ranging from 89-91, in a perfect eighth remembered for his introduction, when the other All-Stars left the field to him alone during a 1 1-2 minute ovation.

The NL managed three hits and one walk for four baserunners in all. And these weren't just any batters, but All-Star sluggers with shining colored spikes and enough honors to fill two dozen trophy dens.

"It's not fun," said David Wright of the host New York Mets. "You think of the broad spectrum of being an All-Star and it gets you excited. And then when you get down to the nitty-gritty and you look in there and you've got to face those pitchers, it's like, `OK, maybe this isn't as fun as I thought it was going to be.' Every guy comes in throwing high 90s with good secondary pitches. And this is difficult."

Carlos Beltran's one-out single to left-center in the fourth against King Felix gave the NL its first baserunner, and pinch runner Andrew McCutchen was stranded on third base when Wright grounded out.

Hernandez isn't used to warming up in the middle of a game.

"It was pretty weird. I don't feel that comfortable that way," he said.

Michael Cuddyer reached on a leadoff walk against Balfour in the sixth, Wright singled softly to center against Greg Holland in the seventh and Paul Goldschmidt doubled to deep right off Nathan in the ninth.

"That's a good lineup we threw out there, a lot of great hitters," NL manager Bruce Bochy said. "They shut us down."

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

SPACESUIT WATER LEAK ENDS SPACEWALK; ASTRONAUT OK

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 07:03 Published in National News
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — In one of the most harrowing spacewalks in decades, an astronaut had to rush back into the International Space Station on Tuesday after a mysterious water leak inside his helmet robbed him of the ability to speak or hear at times and could have caused him to choke or even drown.

Italian Luca Parmitano was reported to be fine after the dangerous episode, which might have been caused by an unprecedented leak in the cooling system of his suit. His spacewalking partner, American Christopher Cassidy, had to help him head inside after NASA quickly aborted the spacewalk.

No one — neither the astronauts in orbit nor flight controllers in Houston — breathed easier until Parmitano was back inside and his helmet was yanked off.

"He looks miserable. But OK," Cassidy assured everyone.

It was the first time in years that a spacewalk came to such an abrupt halt and the first time since NASA's Gemini program in the mid-1960s that a spacewalker became so incapacitated. Spacewalking always carries high risk; a puncture by a micrometeorite or sharp edge, if big enough, could result in instant death.

In a late afternoon news conference, NASA acknowledged the perilous situation that Parmitano had found himself in, and space station operations manager Kenneth Todd promised to "turn over every rock" to make sure it never happens again.

Spacewalking is dangerous already, noted flight director David Korth. Then on top of that, "go stick your head in a fishbowl and try to walk around. That's not anything that you take lightly," he said. "He did a great job of just keeping calm and cool" as the amount of water ominously increased.

"Grace under pressure," Korth said.

The two astronauts were outside barely an hour, performing routine cable work on their second spacewalk in eight days, when Parmitano reported the leak. It progressively worsened as the minutes ticked by, drenching the back of his head, then his eyes, nose and, finally, mouth by the time he was in the air lock, the pressure chamber. He could have choked or drowned on the floating globs of water, NASA officials said.

Between 1 and 1½ liters of water leaked into his helmet and suit, NASA estimated.

The source of the leak wasn't immediately known, but the main culprit appeared to be iodine-laced water that is piped through the long underwear worn under a spacesuit, for cooling. The system holds nearly 4 liters, or 1 gallon. Less likely was the 32-ounce (about 1 liter) drink bag that astronauts sip from during lengthy spacewalks; Parmitano reported the leaking water tasted odd.

At first, Parmitano, 36, a former test pilot and Italy's first spacewalker, thought it was sweat accumulating on the back of his bald head. But he was repeatedly assured it was not sweat. He agreed. "How much can I sweat?" he wondered aloud.

It was only his second spacewalk; his first was last Tuesday, six weeks after moving into the space station.

The water eventually got into Parmitano's eyes. That's when NASA ordered the two men back inside. Then the water drenched his nose and mouth, and he had trouble hearing on the radio lines.

Cassidy quickly cleaned up the work site, then joined Parmitano in the air lock.

The three Russians and one American who anxiously monitored the drama from inside hustled to remove Parmitano's helmet. They clustered around him, eight hands pulling off his helmet and using towels to mop his head. Balls of water floated away.

Parmitano blinked hard several times but otherwise looked fine as he gestured with his hands to show his crewmates where the water had crept around his head.

Cassidy told Mission Control: "To him, the water clearly did not taste like our normal drinking water." A smiling Parmitano then chimed in: "Just so you know, I'm alive and I can answer those questions, too."

He later tweeted: "Thanks for all the positive thoughts!"

Mission Control praised the crew for its fast effort and hooked them up with flight surgeons on the ground.

Parmitano used the same suit during last week's spacewalk without any problems. Before the gush of water made its way into his helmet, the astronaut reported a bad sensor for measuring carbon dioxide in his suit. NASA managers concluded the sensor likely failed due to all the water.

Spare spacesuits and equipment are on board for future NASA spacewalks.

The four remaining spacewalks planned for this year involve Russian astronauts wearing Russian suits, different than the U.S. models. They're preparing for the arrival later this year of a new Russian lab. The year's previous four spacewalks encountered no major snags. This was the 171st spacewalk in the 15-year history of the orbiting outpost.

There was no immediate word on when Tuesday's undone tasks might be attempted again. None of the chores was urgent, simply things that had piled up over the past couple years.

It was the fastest end to a spacewalk since 2004 when Russian and American spacewalkers were ordered back in by Mission Control outside Moscow because of spacesuit trouble. That spacewalk lasted a mere 14 minutes. Tuesday's spacewalk lasted one hour and 32 minutes.

During NASA's old shuttle program, spacewalks occasionally were stymied by stuck hatches and ripped gloves. By coincidence, Cassidy had to end a 2009 station-building spacewalk early because of a potentially dangerous buildup of carbon dioxide in his suit. This marked the sixth spacewalk for the 43-year-old former Navy SEAL, who's midway through a half-year station stint.

In 1966, two Gemini flights ended up with aborted spacewalks. Gemini 11 spacewalker Richard Gordon, was blinded by sweat. Gemini 9 spacewalker Gene Cernan breathed so heavily and sweated so much that fog collected inside his helmet visor and froze.

On the Russian side, the world's first spacewalker, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, could barely get back into his spacecraft in 1965. He had to vent precious oxygen from his suit in order to fit through the hatch. Decades passed before his peril came to light.

"Today was certainly a very serious issue," said Karina Eversley, lead spacewalk officer. The goal, each time, is to get the crew back inside "before things get too serious," she added.

In that respect, Tuesday was a success, Todd noted. "Today the team did a great job."

___ Online: NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

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