In a season that has been all about the long ball, hits were tough to come by in the MLB All-Star Game. Like many years prior, pitching told the tale of the night in another exhilarating All-Star Showdown. Even with this year’s game not counting towards home field advantage in the World Series like it had been, the game was still filled with intensity and the passion from the players both competing on national television trying to secure the victory for their team.
Did you really thing there was an alternative to pitching dominating the game when the two guys starting for their respective leagues are Max Scherzer and Chris Sale? Didn’t think so either, two complete psychopaths that live and breathe to pitch and eviscerate the opposition.
Scherzer opened up blowing a fastball by Jose Altuve at 96 mph and retired him on a come-backer. Despite Aaron Judge‘s 47 homers in route to victory in the HR Derby, Mad Max didn’t shy away from the rookie as he challenged him with the fastball and eventually made Judge look silly flailing on a devastating slider from the best in the world at throwing the pitch. The angry, grunting defending Cy Young Award winner wrapped up his one and only inning of work striking out George Springer with a fastball away.
Then it was Chris Sale time. The Boston Red Sox starter that entered the break at 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA and 178 strikeouts took the hill for the American League and did not disappoint. Giancarlo Stanton was greeted to a standing ovation by Miami Marlins fans and was quickly sent back to the dugout by Sale swinging and missing on a 98 mph sharp piece of cheddar away from the lanky lefty. Sale allowed an opposite field hit by Bryce Harper but retired Buster Posey on a fly out to end his first inning of work. Daniel Murphy true to his word, was looking to knuckle the ball for a hit first pitch against Sale just as he told A-Rod in the interview on the field at Marlins Park. Sale found himself in trouble after Nolan Arenado followed up with a single of his own. The first pitcher to start consecutive All-Star Games with different teams didn’t back down as he quickly induced a 4-6-3 double play from Ryan Zimmerman to the Astros duo of Altuve and Carlos Correa to get two quick outs. Chris Sale ended his ASG and 2nd inning by striking out another hometown player in Marcell Ozuna on a breaking ball in the dirt.
Through the middle innings, pitching still dominated as the lone offense in regulation came from a bloop single by Minnesota Twins Miguel Sano and Yadier Molina drew it even with a solo homer off Ervin Santana in the 6th inning. We saw a flurry of pitchers having remarkable seasons such as Chris Devenski, Greg Holland and Brandon Kintzler throw with their usual attack of a breaking slider with hard fastball away racking up the punch outs in the mid-summer classic.
Yonder Alonso, having a career year for the Oakland Athletics hitting .275 with 20 homers, opened up the top of the 9th with a single. The Miami native went 2-for-2 and stole a base as crowd erupted. Against a tough pitcher that doesn’t give up many hits, it was a prime example of heads up baseball for the American League with a runner in scoring position with nobody out. Kenley Jansen bounced back to strikeout the side against Nelson Cruz, Gary Sanchez and Avisail Garcia blowing them all away with high fastballs.
Kimbrel opened up BOT 9 with a four-pitch walk, but would bounce back with high fastball at 98 against Josh Harrison. After getting crossed up with Yankees catcher Sanchez on a high fastball ruled passed ball, the NL moved a runner into scoring position. Kimbrel walked Jake Lamb to put two on for Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt who hit a loud fly ball to center, advancing Molina to third with two down. Kimbrel would then blow away Mets outfielder Michael Conforto with a 98 mph fastball sending the game into the 10th inning.
Robinson Cano quickly showed up in extra innings putting a perfect swing and crushing a homer to right against Wade Davis which got the Miami crowd on their feet and roaring as it gave the American League the 2-1 lead. John Smoltz said it best during the broadcast on Cano, “Poetry in motion with everything he does, defensively, and offensively.” Cano’s blast was also the fourth extra-inning homer in All-Star Game history. The Seatlle Mariners second baseman smashed the breaking ball from Cubs’ Wade Davis, a guy that had allowed just one homer over the last two years.
Then, it was Miller Time. Cleveland Indians super setup man Andrew Miller took over to close it out. Tigers Justin Upton made a running, sliding grab to open bottom 10th on a ball smoked off the bat of Corey Seager to right. Francisco Lindor showed off his range to help his teammate close it out ranging to his left and throwing out Ender Inciarte. All that stood in the way of the victory was Reds Joey Votto and his .315 batting average, 26 homers and 68 RBI’s in the first half. Miller would walk Votto to bring up Dodgers young stud Cody Bellinger. Miller’s deadly slider was no match as the 21-year-old went down swinging to end the game and secure the fifth consecutive win for the American League. Craig Kimbrel picked up the victory for the AL joining Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon as the only Red Sox pitchers with an All-Star Game win. Robby Don’t Ya Know Cano won the MVP and a brand new Chevrolet Corvette.
Every time it’s July and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game rolls around, baseball fans across the globe get a tingling sensation in their stomach as the best players of the season all lace em up and take the the field to put on a show for the host city. Miami didn’t disappoint as the wonderful venue as Marlins Park made for a perfect backdrop to another amazing All Star clash, easy to see why it’s far and away the greatest of all major sports.
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