Former commissioner Bud Selig’s evil plan to turn the Major League Baseball All-Star Game into a meaningful competition instead of a fun exhibition continued on Tuesday as the American League All-Stars defeated the National League All-Stars, 4-2, from San Diego’s Petco Park.
While the AL came out on top and earned the rights to home field advantage throughout the World Series later this season, the game did not get off to a good start for the “home” team as the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant jumped on the first pitch of his at bat with two outs in the first and laced the offering from the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox’s Chris Sale into the seats in left for a home run. It was a homecoming of sorts for Bryant, who played collegiately at the University of San Diego.
Indians’ starter Corey Kluber relieved Sale, trailing 1-0 in the second. It was the first time during his Major League career that he has taken the mound at Petco, the home field of the Padres, who drafted him in the fourth round out of Stetson in 2007. His first pitch of the inning was lined back at him by Buster Posey, but the San Francisco Giants catcher was retired at first. Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo fouled off several pitches before grounding out to first, and Miami Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna fouled off a handful before striking out looking on a 2-2 pitch.
San Fran’s Johnny Cueto took the mound for a second inning of work and the AL jumped on him early, with several familiar faces doing the damage. With one down, Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer homered to left off of his teammate from the final months of last season to tie the game at one. Boston’s Mookie Betts singled to center and the Royals’ Salvador Perez gave the AL the lead with a two-run shot to left off of his former battery mate to make it a 3-1 game.
A San Diego native, Texas’ Cole Hamels, relieved the pitcher of record, Kluber, in the third and escaped a pair of runners in scoring position with two down by striking out Bryant swinging. The AL lineup then tacked on the ever-important insurance run against Miami’s Jose Fernandez. In his final All-Star Game, Boston’s David Ortiz walked in his last at bat and was lifted for pinch-runner Edwin Encarnacion of Toronto. Ortiz’s teammate, Xander Bogaerts doubled to left, setting the stage for Hosmer to drive in Encarnacion with a two-out single to left.
The NL responded in the top of the fourth against Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez. Posey walked with one out and moved to third on a single from Rizzo. Ozuna drove Posey in with a single to center before Sanchez got a liner and a force out at second to evade further harm, keeping the score at 4-2.
San Diego starter and former Indians prospect Drew Pomeranz took his home mound in the bottom of the fourth, allowing just a one-out single to Jackie Bradley Jr.
Chicago’s Jose Quintana, who was added to the roster to replace Indians starter Danny Salazar over the weekend, got into trouble in the top of the fifth after an error at second to start the inning and a two-out double from San Diego’s Wil Myers. With the tying runs in scoring position, Quintana struck out Washington’s Wilson Ramos on three pitches to end the inning.
Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor pinch-hit for Bogaerts in the bottom of the fifth, popping out to his counterpart against Atlanta’s Julio Teheran to end the inning. He got a second at bat with two outs in the bottom of the seventh after the AL loaded the bases against Chicago’s Jon Lester and Pittsburgh’s Mark Melancon, but grounded out on a nice play up the middle by Washington second baseman Daniel Murphy to leave them loaded.
New York’s Andrew Miller pitched himself into trouble in the two-run game in the top of the eighth. Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy singled with one out and Pittsburgh pinch-hitter Starling Marte singled to right. A walk to Cincinnati’s Adam Duvall loaded the bases and AL manager Ned Yost went to the bullpen, bringing in Houston’s Will Harris, who struck out St. Louis rookie Aledmys Diaz to leave the bases loaded.
In the ninth, Baltimore’s Zach Britton allowed a leadoff single to Murphy before inducing a fielder’s choice grounder by Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt and a double play ball around the horn off of the bat of Colorado’s Nolan Arenado.
Kluber was credited with the win, becoming the first Indians pitcher to earn an All-Star win since Bartolo Colon in 1998 and just the fourth all-time (Bob Feller, 1946; Mel Harder, 1934). Cueto took the loss for the National League and Britton earned the All-Star save. Colon, ironically, was on the NL roster representing the Mets, but like every member of the senior circuit New York team, he did not appear in the game.
The rosters for the two leagues featured a total of 34 first time All-Stars, including all three Indians representatives. Salazar was present for the game and festivities, but did not play due to a sore right elbow. Lindor, the club’s 22-year-old second year shortstop, caught some attention with his red socks pulled to his knees, on which the words “All-Star Game” were stitched.
Photo: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports