Unless the Red Sox and Yankees meet in the postseason, Sunday night will be the final game for Mariano Rivera at Fenway Park.
The Sox will honor the 43-year-old Yankees closer during a pregame ceremony. Rivera has announced he will retire after the season.
Counting the postseason, Rivera has pitched in 60 games at Fenway Park during his 19-year career and in 127 games against the Red Sox in all.
“Fenway is a special place. I’ve always liked coming here,” Rivera said earlier this season. “The people have always treated me with respect and I appreciate that.”
Rivera has played a large role in Red Sox history. In Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series at Fenway, the Red Sox were three outs away from being eliminated when Rivera walked Kevin Millar in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Pinch runner Dave Roberts stole second and then scored on Bill Mueller’s single to center field. The Red Sox went on to win the game, 6-4, in 12 innings.
The Sox did not lose again that year and claimed the franchise’s first World Series title since 1918.
The Yankees were at Fenway for Opening Day on April 3, 2005, and the crowd gave Rivera a mock cheer when he was introduced. Rivera stepped forward, tipped his cap, and won over many fans with his good-natured response.
The Red Sox have not shared any details about the ceremony. The Minnesota Twins so far have had the most creative gift for Rivera: a rocking chair made out of broken bats.
Morales makes move
As the Red Sox evaluate players for their playoff roster, don’t forget about lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Saturday’s 5-1 victory against the Yankees.
Morales has thrown only 20⅔ innings this season and has a 4.79 earned run average along with a 1.45 WHIP. On the surface, that would make him a spectator in October.
But Morales has allowed one run on four hits over 8⅓ innings since coming off the disabled list Aug. 10. He has walked three and struck out six.
Morales’s four-seam fastball has averaged 94 miles per hour since he returned from the DL. It was 91 prior to that.
Morales hit 95 Saturday and sat comfortably at 94.
“It’s going to get better, too,” Morales said. “I can feel it. My shoulder is good now. There’s nothing bothering me.”
Morales has been battling shoulder injuries since the end of last season. But now he finally feels healthy again.
“The velocity has kind of regained its previous levels over the last six or seven outings,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “For the first time this year the one thing we’ve been able to do is bring him to the mound when he’s been fresh. You have to look past the bulk numbers on the year and look at the past six or seven outings.”
Farrell indicated that Morales would receive more opportunities in higher-leverage situations before the season ends. That will help determine whether Morales stays on the roster for the postseason.
“He’s certainly in the mix. Yes, absolutely,” Farrell said. “He’s been throwing the ball well of late.”
Doubront back at it
Lefthander Felix Doubront, who had his last start skipped, is on a program to return to the rotation. He will throw in the bullpen Sunday, pitch a simulated game Tuesday, and then likely start against Toronto next weekend . . . Farrell offered only general details on the progress of Jacoby Ellsbury, who has missed eight games with a fracture in his right foot. “As anticipated he’s going through more exercises, which is all part of his rehab plan at the time of the exam. No baseball activities. This is just all physical activities,” the manager said. Ellsbury has not been made available to the media since he left New York to get his foot examined last weekend.
Buchholz to start
Sunday night Clay Buchholz will make his second start since coming off the disabled list. The righthander threw five scoreless innings against the Rays Tuesday night, giving up three hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Buchholz threw 74 pitches and could get to 85-90 against the Yankees. “The stress of the pitches from the start to the end of his night will have as much bearing as the number of pitches thrown,” Farrell said. Buchholz has faced the Yankees twice this season and allowed one run on eight hits over 12 innings.
Series of wins
The Red Sox have now won eight consecutive series and a major league-best 32 on the season . . . 2007 World Series hero Mike Lowell was in the stands and got an ovation from the crowd . . . When Shane Victorino stole third base in the sixth inning, it was the 30th consecutive successful steal for the Sox dating to Aug. 9 . . . The Sox are 39-27 against the AL East . . . A chant of “No one likes you” rose in the bleachers when Yankees villain Alex Rodriguez came up in the ninth inning. Rodriguez is 0 for 6 with two walks in the series and has now played 35 games since appealing his suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs . . . Will Middlebrooks drove in a run but was 0 for 4 and is now hitless in his last 17 at-bats . . . The start was the 218th for Jon Lester. He passed Bruce Hurst and Tom Brewer for seventh place in franchise history . . . The Yankees scratched left fielder Alfonso Soriano right before first pitch because of a sprained right thumb. He is day-to-day . . . The Yankees placed Derek Jeter on the 60-day disabled list before the game and activated righthander David Phelps off the DL. The move officially ends the season for Jeter after 17 games.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.