In the first All-Star Game of the Post-Selig Era, the American League triumphed over the National League, 6-3, thus awarding the eventual AL pennant winner home-field advantage in the subsequent World Series. Hopefully for the final time.
While new commish Rob Manfred remains mum on scrapping Bud’s “This Time It Counts” idea, hatched after an unfortunate managers-run-out-of-pitchers tie in the 2002 Midsummer Classic, it might just be that behind that gapped-tooth smile of his lies a Cheshire Cat waiting to pounce.
We’ll find out soon enough. But for now, for this October, the AL’s win on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park allows for the possibility of a World Series Game 7 in Kansas City, just like last year. It’s a good thing Royals players contributed to the cause, because had they not, and the NL had emerged victorious, K.C. would never have heard the end of the ballot-stuffing discussion. They might not anyway.
And to be fair to the K.C. faithful, it wasn’t just them (well, it was mostly them); it was the entire state of Missouri, actually, with St. Louis – whose fans, as an annual tradition, fill out ballots like paper’s going out of style – guilty of a little Show-Me-manship too. Check the states’ voting results for the down-ballot candidates, as well as the winners, along with this brilliant prediction of mine.
To their credit, the Missouri All-Stars starred. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first, the Cards’ Jhonny Peralta got the National League even with a two-out single in the second. With Yadier Molina singling in the sixth, St. Louis hitters were a perfect two-for-two (1.000) at the plate.
Yes, Royals Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez combined to go 0-3, but Alcides Escobar contributed a single in two at-bats, while Lorenzo Cain added a double, a steal and an RBI, and was as worthy an All-Star Most Valuable Player as Mike Trout, whose first-inning homer earned him the actual trophy.
K.C. reliever Wade Davis struck out two in a scoreless eighth, and Ned Yost has the title of All-Star winning manager on his resume for all eternity.
Other states to distinguish themselves Tuesday night include the following:
Maryland: Baltimore’s Manny Machado had an RBI double in two at-bats; teammate Zach Britton relieved mid-sixth inning for a hold.
Michigan: Detroit’s David Price got the ASG win, tossing a perfect fourth inning with two strikeouts. Shortstop Jose Iglesias was 0-2 with the bat, but made the defensive play of the game, going deep into the hole for a pretty 6-3 play on Yasmani Grandal’s eighth-inning grounder.
Minnesota: The Twins’ Brian Dozier crushed a pinch-hit homer to extend the AL’s lead to 6-2 in the eighth.
Texas: AL starter Dallas Keuchel pitched two innings, allowing an unearned run representing Houston, while the Rangers’ Prince Fielder had a single and two RBIs.
A bit of a mixed bag for these states:
New York: The Yankees’ Dellin Betances pitched a shutout seventh inning for a hold, while Mets’ Jacob deGrom struck out Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Iglesias on 10 pitches in a perfect sixth. Yanks Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira combined to go 0-4 on the evening.
Ohio: Props to Cincinnati and the Reds for a wonderful job of hosting the entire affair. I didn’t want Pete Rose anywhere near the All-Star Game – banned means banned, remember – but the pregame Franchise Four ceremony was done tastefully, with a touch of class, and was mostly painless for the hit king’s critics. The Reds’ third baseman, Home Run Derby winner Todd Frazier, went hitless in three at-bats and missed an easy ground ball chance. Cincy closer Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth.
Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole pitched a scoreless third inning while Mark Melancon allowed Dozier’s homer in his one inning of work. Andrew McCutchen slapped a line drive home run to get the NL within a run at 3-2 in the sixth. Interestingly – disappointingly, really – Bruce Bochy subbed A.J. Pollock in for Cutch in the seventh.
Wisconsin: Ryan Braun tripled in a ninth-inning comeback attempt which went no further, and Frankie Rodriguez was roughed up for two big runs in the seventh as the AL stretched its lead to 5-2.
A rough night for these states:
Colorado: Rockies Nolan Arenado, Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu combined to go hitless in four trips to the plate.
Illinois: Cubs Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo (who also flamed out in Monday’s Derby) went 0-3 together, while Chris Sale, the White Sox’ lone representative, did not play.
California: A very rough night for the Golden State. It was all downhill for poor California after the Angels’ Trout homered to begin the game. It wasn’t what Los Angeles starter Zack Greinke had in mind either, I’m quite sure.
Rotation-mate Clayton Kershaw struggled mightily and was slapped with the loss. The three-time Cy Young Award winner and last year’s NL MVP allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in 22 pitches, leading more than a few some across the land to question whether the Dodgers’ ace can pitch on the big stage, while others screamed BABIP, which is never helpful.
The Dodgers had a pretty bad night across the board, with Joc Pederson striking out twice in two tries, Adrian Gonzalez whiffing in his lone at-bat and Yasmani Grandal grounding out in his one turn. The A’s Vogt was 0-1. Anaheim’s Albert Pujols was 0-2.
San Diego’s Justin Upton singled sharply in his only attempt, while Giants starter Madison Bumgarner pitched a scoreless fourth inning (hooray for those two).
San Francisco hitters Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Buster Posey went 0-5 together, and of course, Bochy lost yet another All-Star Game. As the loser in 2015, 2013, and 1999, he’s just 1-for-4 at the Midsummer Classic, with his lone win coming as skipper in 2011.
The losses in two of those ASGs have translated to NL World Series home field disadvantage in the corresponding Octobers, and it will again this Fall. Perhaps with a new commissioner now in charge wisdom will prevail, with home-field in next year’s World Series going to the league which slugs most prodigiously in the 2016 Home Run Derby. Now that’s an idea.