American League clinches home field with 4-2 victory in 87th All-Star Game

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For the first time since 1992 and the first time at Petco Park, the San Diego Padres played host to the annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The 87th edition of the mid-summer classic pitted the American League, managed by Royals skipper Ned Yost against the National League, led by Mets manager Terry Collins.

With home field advantage in the 2016 World Series on the line, the sport’s best starts from each league battled it out in America’s Finest City and in the end, it was the American League winning for a fourth straight season by a final score of 4-2.


INNINGS 1 – 3

Starting for the American League was White Sox ace Chris Sale (14-3, 3.38 ERA), his fifth consecutive appearance in the mid-summer classic. He downed the first two batters for the National League on just three pitches, but then Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant tagged him for a solo shot to right, giving the Senior Circuit an early 1-0 lead.

Taking the mound for the National League was the Giants’ Johnny Cueto (13-1, 2.47 ERA). Unlike his counterpart Chris Sale, he escaped the 1st inning unscathed, allowing just a one-out base hit to the Angels’ Mike Trout.

In the 2nd, Indians pitcher and 2014 AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (9-8, 3.61 ERA) came on to pitch a 1-2-3 inning, striking out one batter. Kluber was named an All-Star as an injury replacement.

Cueto came back out for a second inning of work but the AL would get to him. A pair of Royals hit homers off their former teammate. First baseman Eric Hosmer hit a solo shot with one out to tie it at one apiece and after a single from Boston’s Mookie Betts, K.C. catcher Salvador Perez went deep for a two-run jack.

Cueto’s night was done after 1.2 IP. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez (11-4, 2.52 ERA) came on to strike out Mike Trout to end the 2nd for the AL.

Nothing doing for the NL in the 3rd off Rangers ace Cole Hamels (9-2, 3.21 ERA). They spoiled a leadoff single from the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez and had runners on second and third with two outs, but could not cash in.

The Junior Circuit made them pay in the home half of the 3rd against Fernandez, who was back out there. Red Sox DH and 40-year-old David Ortiz walked with one out and he was removed from the game for a pinch runner, Edwin Encarnacion. In what is likely his final All-Star Game in his final big league season, the sellout crowd at Petco gave Ortiz a standing ovation.

His Boston teammate Xander Bogaerts doubled in the next at-bat to put runners on second and third with one out. Then it was Hosmer again coming through, singling the opposite way to score Encarnacion and make it a 4-1 lead for the AL.
(THRU 3: AL LEADS 4-1)


INNINGS 4 – 6

The top of the 4th marked the fourth different pitcher for the AL, in came Toronto youngster Aaron Sanchez (9-1, 2.97 ERA), another injury replacement addition. After a walk to Giants catcher Buster Posey and a base hit from the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, Marlins center fielder Marcel Ozuna singled up the middle to score Posey, cutting the AL lead to 4-2.

In the home half of the 4th, the Padres own Drew Pomeranz (8-7, 2.47 ERA), easily one of the better stories in baseball this season, tossed a scoreless inning in front of the home crowd, allowing just a one-out single.

In the 5th, White Sox lefty Jose Quintana (7-8, 3.21 ERA) relieved Sanchez. He allowed a leadoff single to the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy and a two-out double to Padres first baseman Wil Myers, but again the NL was unable to capitalize. In the bottom half, Atlanta ace Julio Teheran (3-8, 2.96 ERA) tossed a 1-2-3 frame.

In the 6th, manager Ned Yost brought in one of his own in Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera (1.77 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) and he answered Teheran’s 1-2-3 inning with one of his own, punching out one. In the home half, Nationals ace Max Scherzer absolutely mowed down the AL hitters in order.
(THRU 6: AL LEADS 4-2)


INNINGS 7 – 9

As if seeing Herrera in the 6th did not already indicate the All-Star Game at this point turned into a bullpen game, Yost then handed the ball to Yankees reliever Dellin Betances (2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) to start the 7th. He allowed just a one-out base hit to the aforementioned Daniel Murphy, but nonetheless pitched an impressive scoreless frame.

Cubs lefty ace Jon Lester (9-4, 3.01 ERA) came on to pitch the 7th for the NL. Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo reached on an error to lead off the inning, followed by a walk issued to Robinson Cano. He then recorded a ground ball and fly ball out in the next two at-bats before being relieved by Pirates closer Mark Melancon (1.23 ERA, 27 SVs).

Melancon walked Edwin Encarnacion to load the bases but then got a ground ball out off the bat of Cleveland shortstop phenom Francisco Lindor to end the threat.

In came another one of those dominant Yankee relievers to pitch the 8th, left-hander Andrew Miller (1.37 ERA, 0.71 WHIP). He allowed a one-out hit to Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and a two-out single to the Pirates’ Starling Marte followed by a walk to Reds outfielder Adam Duvall. That signaled the end for Miller and in came Houston reliever Will Harris (1.62 ERA, 0.95 ERA).

Harris got a huge strikeout of Cardinals rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz looking to leave the bases loaded in the 8th for the NL.

Recently traded Padres closer and new Marlins set-up man Fernando Rodney (1.04 ERA with SDP and MIA; 0.92 WHIP) came on to pitch the 8th for the Senior Circuit and recorded two outs on seven pitches before being relieved by Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen (1.16 ERA, 27 SVs). He got a strikeout to end the 8th.

On came Baltimore closer Zach Britton (0.72 ERA, 27 SVs) to finish it off for the American League. Daniel Murphy reached base for the third time in the game with a leadoff single. Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt grounded into a fielder’s choice followed by a double play ball from Nolan Arenado to end the game and earn another victory for the American League.

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer was named the MVP after the game. He went 2-for-3 with a solo HR, two RBI and a run scored. He is the second Royal ever to take home the honors (Bo Jackson, 1989).

Indians pitcher Corey Kluber earned the win, while Giants pitcher and NL starter Johnny Cueto takes the loss. Baltimore’s Zach Britton notches the save.
(FINAL SCORE: AL 4, NL 2)


ADDITIONAL GAME NOTES

  • This All-Star Game marked the second of four consecutive seasons the mid-summer classic will be hosted by a National League club, due to the fact that MLB wants to showcase more newer ballparks around the league. However, they will still alternate which league is the home team. The AL was the home team this year and will be again in 2018 when the game is held at Marlins Park.
  • A single in the 1st inning by Mike Trout marked the first time in All-Star Game history that an American League player recorded at least one hit in each of his first five All-Star Game appearances (2012-16 for Trout).
  • There were 79 players selected to this year’s All-Star Game, roughly a tenth of all current major leaguers. Of the 79, 33 were first-time All-Stars. The veteran of the 79 All-Stars is Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, making his 11th appearance all-time and seventh straight.
  • Excluding the DH David Ortiz and starter Chris Sale, the starting eight position players for the American League are all 26 years of age or younger, the first time that has ever happened in ASG history. There were also 27 players in total that were age 26 or younger.
  • With the loss, the National League pennant winner has an uphill climb. The team with home-field advantage in the World Series has won nine of the last 13 Fall Classics. Also, the 4-2 win for the AL gives them 16 wins over their Senior Circuit counterparts in the last 20 mid-summer classics.