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Exit Sandman: Top 10 Mariano Rivera moments vs. Red Sox

09.16.13 at 11:13 am ET
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As the 2013 season winds to a close, so does the career of arguably the greatest closer in baseball history.

Mariano Rivera, who holds the MLB record for most saves (651) and games finished (948), announced during spring training this year that he will retire at the end of 2013.

While this news has a huge effect on the Yankees, his retirement will have a profound effect on many other teams, especially the Red Sox, who have faced Rivera in 115 games over the past 19 seasons.

Here’s a look at the top 10 Mariano Rivera moments vs. the Red Sox over the course of the future Hall Of Famer’s career:

10. Rivera’s first appearance against Boston, Sept. 10, 1995 — Entering the major leagues as a 25-year-old rookie in 1995, Rivera originally was brought up as a starting pitcher before being converted into a reliever by the end of the season. In what would be the first of many, many appearances against the Red Sox, Rivera pitched two scoreless innings while striking out one batter, outfielder Willie McGee, in a 9-3 Yankees victory.

9. Rivera booed at Yankee Stadium, April 6, 2005 — The beginning of the 2005 season was pretty rough for Rivera. After missing time in spring training with elbow bursitis, Rivera had two straight blown saves against the Red Sox, including a miserable performance on April 6 in which Rivera gave up five runs in two-thirds of an inning. After he was pulled, Rivera, who had four straight blown saves against the Red Sox dating back to the 2004 postseason, was booed by the Yankee Stadium crowd as he walked to the dugout.

8. Rivera shuts down Sox in ’99 ALCS, Oct. 13-18, 1999 — After coming back from two games down to defeat the Indians in the ALDS, the Red Sox were rolling and looked poised to continue their run against the defending World Series champion Yankees. However, the Sox were overmatched, especially by Rivera, who recorded two saves in three appearances while not allowing any runs, and were eliminated in five games. The Yankees went on to win the World Series again that season, their third title in four years.

7. Rivera meets with Boston Marathon bombing victims and others at Fenway, July 20, 2013 — As part of his final tour through the majors, Rivera has made it a point to visit with fans and team employees in parks throughout the country. Rivera continued this trend at Fenway Park on July 20 before the Yankees faced off against the Red Sox, as Rivera met with a group of people that included Boston Marathon bombing victims, Jimmy Fund patients and long-time Red Sox employees and talked with them for almost an hour. A classy move from an always classy player.

6. Manny Ramirez takes three straight strikes from Rivera, July 6, 2008 — By the midway point of the 2008 season, the relationship between the Red Sox and Ramirez had decayed into complete dysfunction. After pushing 64-year-old Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground in late June after a dispute over tickets, Ramirez would continue with his unacceptable behavior just a few weeks later on July 6 in a game against the Yankees. With the score tied, 4-4, in the top of the ninth inning and with Brandon Moss on third, Ramirez entered the game as a pinch hitter and proceeded to take three straight strikes from Rivera without ever lifting the bat off of his shoulders. Ramirez would be traded to the Dodgers on July 31.

5. Rivera’s masterful performance during Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Oct. 16, 2003 —  While Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS was one of the worst days in Red Sox history for most Boston fans, it was one of Rivera’s finest hours. With the score tied, 5-5, Rivera entered the game in the ninth inning and proceeded to throw three shutout innings. Rivera would pick up the win after Aaron Boone hit a walk-off home run off Tim Wakefield to send the Yankees to the World Series. Rivera, who also recorded two saves, was named ALCS MVP.

4. Rivera can’t hold lead lead in ALCS Game 5, Oct. 18, 2004  Just one day after he blew the save in Game 4 of the ALCS, Rivera entered the eighth inning of Game 5 looking to hold a 4-3 lead and eliminate the Red Sox from postseason play. Rivera was brought in to relieve Tom Gordon, who surrendered a solo home to David Ortiz and left runners on first and third with no outs. Rivera was not able to work his magic, as Jason Varitek lifted a Rivera cutter out to center field for a sacrifice fly, bringing in Dave Roberts from third and tying the game. The Red Sox would eventually win the marathon affair in the 14th inning on an RBI bloop single from Ortiz. After being down 3-0 just two days prior, the Red Sox had clawed back into the series and seemed to have all the momentum as both teams traveled to Yankee Stadium for Games 6 and 7.

3. Rivera cheered by the Fenway faithful during ’05 home opener, April 11, 2005 — There were plenty of highlights to take away from the Red Sox’ 2005 home opener: Boston sports greats Bobby Orr and Bill Russell helping Patriots players Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour throw out the ceremonial first pitches, Red Sox legends such as Johnny Pesky and Carl Yastrzemski raising the World Series championship flag, and of course, the Red Sox receiving their World Series championship rings. Another memorable moment occurred when Rivera was introduced to the Fenway crowd.

While every other Yankees player was booed mercilessly, the crowd erupted into cheers when Rivera walked out of the New York dugout, a sarcastic show of appreciation for the pitcher who had blown four straight saves against the Sox. Rivera took the entire experience in stride, laughing and tipping his cap to the crowd of 33,702. “It surprised me. I didn’t know they loved me so much here,” Rivera said after the game. “It was nice. I enjoyed it. I had to laugh.”

2. Bill Mueller hits a walk-off home run off Rivera after the teams brawl, July 24, 2004 – Looking back, it would seem that the turning point of the 2004 season that helped spark the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years had to be the infamous brawl game on July 24. The tension between the Red Sox — who trailed the Yankees by 9½ games in the division — and their hated rivals finally boiled over the third inning. Varitek smashed his glove in the face of Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who was barking after being hit by a pitch from Bronson Arroyo. When the fight finally ended, four players were ejected: Varitek, Rodriguez, Yankees outfielder Kenny Lofton and Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler. The rivalry had hit a new level of intensity.

The Yankees led by a score of 10-8 in the ninth inning and called upon Rivera for the save, but the jacked-up Red Sox would not be denied. Nomar Garciaparra doubled to lead off the inning and was driven home by a single from Kevin Millar. Mueller followed with a clutch two-run home run that landed into the bullpen, giving the Sox an 11-10 victory.

The dramatic win seemed to spark the Red Sox, as the team went 45-20 over the final 65 games of the regular season and, well, the rest is history.

This would not be the only time that season that Mueller would deliver a big hit against Rivera.

1. Rivera’s blown save gives the Sox new life in ALCS Game 4, Oct. 17, 2004 – It seems like every Red Sox fan remembers the final innings of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS like it was yesterday.

Only three outs away from elimination, Boston trailed 4-3 in the ninth inning and faced Rivera, who was attempting a two-inning save to shut down the Red Sox and move on to the World Series.

Rivera started the final inning off poorly by walking Millar, who was replaced by the speedy Roberts. In what turned out to be the most pivotal play in the entire series, Roberts stole second base and subsequently was driven home on a single up the middle from Mueller, tying the game at 4.

The game would go on for another two innings, until Ortiz launched a 2-1 pitch from Yankees reliever Paul Quantrill into the bullpen, giving the Red Sox a 6-4 win.

Rivera, who had two blown saves in the series despite only allowing one earned run, had allowed the Red Sox back into the series, a series that Boston famously would win in seven games after trailing three games to none.

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