First Pitch: Mo's final week in the Bronx

September, 20, 2013
TORONTO -- The yearlong celebration of Mariano Rivera will reach its climax over the next week. The Yankees return home for their final six regular-season games of the year at Yankee Stadium. The whole week will be a big thank-you card to the one and only Rivera.

"I'm anxious to see that," Joe Girardi said. "To think about what he has done for this organization and to think what the organization has done for him. It has been a great partnership, that's for sure. I'm excited for the fans to get a chance to say it again, thank-you. They have been so gracious to him."

On Sunday against the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees will have their official celebration in which each fan will receive a "Thank you Fans" Rivera photo. The festivities will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Sunday won't be the end, though. The Yankees have what could be a crucial series with Tampa beginning Tuesday. On Thursday, Rivera will play his final regular-season game at Yankee Stadium.

Girardi would like to pitch Rivera as often as possible for traditional -- it means the Yanks are winning -- and sentimental reasons. But Girardi said he will not force it if the situation doesn't dictate it. Rivera, for his part, is up for anything that comes his way.

"You have to do whatever it takes to get ready," Rivera said. "It's simple as that."

WHERE THEY STAND: The Yankees are 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card race with nine games to play. Here are the latest standings. And here are the schedules for each team in wild-card contention.

New York Yankees
Giants (3)
Rays (3)
at Astros (3)

Tampa Bay Rays
Orioles (4)
at Yankees (3)
at Blue Jays (3)

Cleveland Indians
Astros (4)
White Sox (2)
at Twins (4)

Baltimore Orioles
at Rays (4)
Blue Jays (3)
Red Sox (3)

Kansas City Royals
Rangers (3)
at Mariners (3)
at White Sox (4)

UP NOW: All of our Rivera coverage, which can be found here. I wrote about how the Yankees have some excuses that they can lean on and others they can't. Darren Rovell on the money the Yankees and Rivera will make off his retirement.

ON DECK: Wallace Matthews and Matt Ehalt will have you covered from the stadium.

IN THE HOLE: Pitching matchups against the Giants:

Friday: CC Sabathia (13-13, 4.90) vs. Tim Lincecum (10-13, 4.40)

Saturday: Ivan Nova (8-5, 3.36) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (3-5, 5.73)

Sunday: Andy Pettitte (10-10, 3.93) vs. Yusmeiro Petit (4-0, 3.08).

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What athlete's retirement has been as celebrated as Rivera's, in your opinion?
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »



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