AL fans 16, tops NL 4-3 to win 7th straight All-star Game

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Ben Walker

CLEVE­LAND — For one night, the pitch­ers took back the power.

Hours af­ter an awe­some Home Run Derby got ev­ery­one buzzing even louder about mon­ster shots and juiced balls, only a cou­ple flew out of Pro­gres­sive Field in the All-star Game.

In­stead, Justin Ver­lan­der blazed 97 mph heat from the start, Shane Bieber and Aroldis Chap­man each struck out the side and the Amer­i­can League slowed a loaded NL lineup 4-3 Tuesday for its sev­enth straight win.

“I know it’s the year of the home run, but pitch­ing dom­i­nated to­day,” Colorado slug­ger Nolan Are­nado said.

Sure did — at least un­til play re­sumes Thurs­day.

Fac­ing Chris­tian Yelich, Cody Bellinger and a bunch of bop­pers, the AL staff com­bined to strike out 16.

“Base­ball is a funny game,” said Bieber, a most un­likely MVP af­ter be­ing added late to the ros­ter.

With fans hop­ing to see a re­play of Monday’s jaw­drop­ping aerial show when 312 homers cleared the walls, this be­came the Arm­star Game up un­til the late in­nings.

Derby champ Pete Alonso of the Mets grounded a two-out, two-run sin­gle past Gley­ber Tor­res in the eighth to close the NL’S gap. Af­ter a dou­ble steal put run­ners at se­cond and third against Cleve­land re­liever Brad Hand, White Sox catcher James Mccann made a tum­bling catch on Mike Mous­takas’ twist­ing foul pop to end the in­ning.

Chap­man closed to give the AL its 19th win in 22 games, with a tie stuck in there. He got a lit­tle en­cour­age­ment with two outs — Yan­kees team­mate CC Sa­bathia, hon­ored this week for his con­tri­bu­tions on and off the field, strolled to the mound to talk to the flamethrow­er. Chap­man then struck out Yas­mani Gran­dal for a save , giv­ing the AL an over­all 45-43-2 lead in the Mid­sum­mer Clas­sic.

No need, ei­ther, for the ex­per­i­men­tal rule that was set to go ef­fect: If the game went into ex­tras, each team would’ve started the 10th with an au­to­matic run­ner on se­cond base.

Ma­jor League Base­ball is on a record-shat­ter­ing pace for homers this sea­son, but no one came close to clear­ing the walls un­til Char­lie Black­mon con­nected in the NL sixth to make it 2-1. Texas’ Joey Gallo coun­tered

with a solo drive in a two-run sev­enth.

Still, it was a far cry from last year’s All-star Game that fea­tured a record 10 home runs.

“I kind of ex­pected it, to be hon­est,” for­mer NL MVP Kris Bryant said. “You only see them once, so they have the ad­van­tage.”

“There are a lot of hard throw­ers and great pitch­ers over there. Un­less you’ve seen them be­fore, it’s a dif­fi­cult matchup,” he said.

Cleve­land fa­vorite Michael Brant­ley had an early RBI dou­ble off los­ing pitcher Clay­ton Ker­shaw. Jorge Polanco drove in a run with an in­field sin­gle for a 2-0 edge in the fifth and an­other scored on a dou­ble­play grounder.

“I wanted to swing the bat early. I had some ner­vous jit­ters I wanted to get out,”

Brant­ley said.

Win­ning pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, Lu­cas Gi­olito and Shane Greene did their parts to pro­tect the lead with score­less in­nings.

Bieber daz­zled in front of a chant­ing home crowd, strik­ing out Will­son Con­tr­eras, Ke­tel Marte and Ron­ald Acuña Jr. in the fifth

with a 1-0 lead. Bieber later do­nated his cap to the Hall of Fame.

“It was elec­tric out there, the fans got in it and it was fun,” AL man­ager Alex Cora of the Red Sox said. “And I’m glad that he got the MVP. He plays at this level. He’s re­ally good.”

The big­gest mis­play

of the night might have been on the score­board. NL All-stars David Dahl of Colorado and Will­son Con­tr­eras of the Cubs had their names mis­spelled — “Davis Dahl” and “Wil­son Con­tr­eras” — on the out­field videoboard. Jeff Mcneil was spelled cor­rectly, but the photo ac­com­pa­ny­ing it was of Mets team­mate Ja­cob degrom.

“That was tough, to see degrom’s pic­ture up there,” Mcneil said. “I didn’t re­ally like that. I wanted to see my pic­ture up there. I know my fam­ily did, too. What are you go­ing to do, I guess, but I don’t think that should hap­pen.”

Fit­tingly, the first bat­ter of the game was the guy who leads the ma­jors in home runs — Yelich, the NL MVP with 31 homers at the break, hit lead­off for the first time this year.

Yelich lined out and Ver­lan­der quickly fanned Javier Báez and Fred­die Free­man to fin­ish his work.

Those lively balls that Ver­lan­der is com­plain­ing about? Didn’t bother him a bit.

NL starter Hyun-jin Ryu, degrom and Luis Castillo threw score­less in­nings to keep the NL close in the early go­ing.

Pitts­burgh dy­namo Josh Bell was part of the youngest start­ing lineup in All-star his­tory, with the NL crew aver­ag­ing un­der 26 years old.

Over­all, there were 36 first-timers, a num­ber boosted by the ab­sence of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, José Al­tuve and sev­eral past peren­ni­als. And con­sider this: Of the 16 AL pitch­ers on the 2017 All-star ros­ter, zero made the ros­ter this year.


All play­ers wore a uni­form patch with No. 45 to honor late An­gels pitcher Tyler Sk­aggs. Los An­ge­les team­mates Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella switched their jerseys to Sk­aggs’ num­ber, and there was a pregame mo­ment of si­lence.

“I felt him out there with me,” Trout said. “To be able to rep­re­sent him and what he meant to us on a stage like this is spe­cial.”


The reg­u­lar sea­son re­sumes on Thurs­day night with one game, Hous­ton at Texas. All teams are back in ac­tion Friday . ... Next year’s All-star Game is at Dodger Sta­dium for the first time since 1980.


Amer­i­can League start­ing pitcher Justin Ver­lan­der, of the Hous­ton Astros, throws dur­ing the first in­ning of the MLB base­ball All­star Game against the Na­tional League, Tuesday, July 9, 2019, in Cleve­land.

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