National League Thumps American League In 83rd All-Star Game
By Craig Gifford
If the Cleveland Indians are able to make it to the World Series this season, they will be at a disadvantage. So will any other American League team, for that matter. The National League pummeled the American League Tuesday night at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. The NL came away with a decisive 8-0 victory in the 83rd Major League Baseball All Star Game.
The NL jumped on the AL and starter Justin Verlander early. The NL led 5-0 before any AL player swung a bat. Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval keyed the first inning barrage with a three-run triple. It was the first-ever bases-clearing triple in All Star Game history. It proved to be more than enough as the Senior Circuit tossed the first All-Star Game shut out since the NL won 6-0 in 1996. It was the most lopsided Mid Summer Classic since the AL whopped the NL 13-3 in 1983. In the early hole, the Junior Circuit never really could get anything going against 11 NL hurlers.
Texas reliever Matt Harrison joined Verlander as pitchers who were touched up. Harrison did not quite match the Tiger ace’s five earned runs allowed. However, he did surrender a trio of runs in a fourth inning that saw San Francisco’s Melky Cabrera drive the final nails in the coffin with a two-run homer. It was a welcome back moment for Cabrera who used to call Kansas City home.
The only drama really remaining for Royals fans as the game got late was whether Tribe closer Chris Perez would get in the game and just how lustily they would boo him.
Perez made a lot of enemies in Kansas City earlier this season. Cleveland’s media favorite made remarks about the Royals’ lack of winning teams for the past two decades. He also commented on the team’s marketing slogan, “It’s our time now,” saying the team basically stole Cleveland’s “Tribe Time” slogan from two years ago. He also made a gesture following a May save against Kansas City, angering Royals players.
Much to the chagrin of fans in both Kansas City and Cleveland, Perez was one of the pitchers AL manager Ron Washington did not use. After the Royals faithful laid a chorus of boos on Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano during Monday’s Home Run Derby for the AL captain failing to select a Royal for the event, those fans were likely hoping to give Perez the same treatment during Tuesday’s game. It was the Tribe closer’s second All-Star selection. He threw a scoreless inning last year.
Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera did get into the game. He pinch hit for Derek Jeter in the fifth and became a part of the AL’s best stretch of offense. Cabrera walked to load the bases with two out after Boston’s David Ortiz and the Rangers’ Mike Napoli had already singled.
Cabrera did not put the ball in play in his eighth inning at bat, strking out. He is now 0-for-3 in four All-Star Game plate appearances after going hitless in two at bats in his debut last year.
While Cabrera and Perez are likely just getting started in their All-Star Game careers, Tuesday night likely saw the last appearances for two long-time stars. NL manager Tonly LaRussa, who earned the honor for managing the Cardinals to last year’s World Series crown, came out of retirement to coach one last time. He goes out victoriously.
Likewise, eight-time All-Star Chipper Jones, of the Atlanta Braves, made what should be his last appearance in the annual affair. Jones, who said he would retire after this, his 19th big league season, had a base hit in his lone at bat.
Perez and Cabrera will join their Cleveland teammates Friday in Toronto where the Indians will begin the season’s second half.
Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images