DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers gave Mariano Rivera a retirement gift before Sunday's game, and in return Mo gave them a souvenir -- the last bat he will ever bust in a regular-season game at Comerica Park. It came at the expense of Brayan Pena, who was 15 years old when Mo got his first major league save.
SOIL SPORT: Before the game, the Tigers presented Rivera with a display case filled with photos of him pitching both at Comerica and at the old Tiger Stadium, flanked by bottles containing dirt from the pitcher's mound at both parks. The crowd also gave him a warm ovation when he took the mound to pitch the ninth inning.
"It was wonderful," said Rivera, who can expect similar ceremonies in every park he visits this year, starting Monday in Cleveland. "That will take a good place in my house. I have to build a new room because definitely I don't have space for all that. But it's great to be recognized like that."
BIG SHOT: Jayson Nix, the emergency-emergency shortstop now that Eduardo Nunez is out of the lineup recovering from a bruised biceps, delivered the biggest hit of the day, a two-run homer off Justin Verlander, who had retired him in 10 of their previous 11 meetings. The shot was even more impressive when you consider it came on a 3-1 pitch, a situation in which most hitters would be gearing up for Verlander's 95 mph heater. But Verlander pulled the string on Nix, who waited on the change and belted it over the bullpens in left-center.
"You can't really guess with him, because he's hard to predict," Nix said. "He's got four good pitches he can throw for a strike at any time, and he doesn't really get into patterns. We talked about it in the dugout before I went up there. It just turned out the pitch got a lot of the plate."
CLEAN-SHAVEN: In what will come as a relief to some and a disappointment to others, Joba Chamberlain took a blade to his upper lip on Sunday morning and relieved himself of the moustache he has worn since spring training. The growth was such a lightning rod it spawned a Twitter account devoted to Joba's moustache. But now, it is history.
"It wasn't doing us any good, so I got rid of it," he said. "I wanted to see if I still had an upper lip."