The city of Cleveland was well represented in Miami on Tuesday night. The Tribe contingent was active throughout the 88th annual All-Star Game in a contest decided on a tenth inning solo home run by Seattle’s Robinson Cano in a 2-1 American League victory over the host National League squad from Marlins Park.
Cano, an injury replacement for New York’s Starlin Castro, delivered the deciding run off of the lone Chicago Cub representative in the game, closer Wade Davis. Cano took home the Most Valuable Player award for his game-winner and the AL has won five consecutive games. The win evened up the all-time series between the two circuits at 43-43-2, while both teams have scored a total of 361 runs each.
Tribe bench coach Brad Mills, serving as the AL manager in place of the resting Terry Francona, called upon a familiar face for the final frame in Andrew Miller to protect the one-run lead. The inning came with some scares, as Los Angeles’ Corey Seager started the inning with a hard tailing liner to right that was caught by Detroit’s Justin Upton in the nick of time. Teammate Francisco Lindor also came to his defense on a grounder up the middle by Atlanta’s Ender Inciarte, showing off his range and his arm on the play. Miller would walk Cincinnati’s Joey Votto with two outs, but was able to strike out LA’s Cody Bellinger to earn the All-Star save.
“I’m glad I got in and got a chance to pitch well,” said Miller after the game. “It’s just kind of the cherry on top for me personally. It’s always a blast to be around a group like this. It’s probably not something that happens too often. I don’t want to take it for granted.”
It was the second consecutive All-Star Game for the dominant reliever, who was one of four different Indians players on the roster for the second time in their careers.
It was a highly competitive game, well-pitched throughout, even in light of the changes to the rules for this season that eliminated the outcome of the game effecting home field advantage during the World Series (apparently this time, it did not count). There was an air of seriousness in the effort of the players, yet a refreshingly relaxed and lighthearted attitude at times for a game that truly should be an exhibition between the best and brightest in the game. Fans got to learn (ad nauseum) about young Yankees slugger and Home Run Derby champion Aaron Judge, who has apparently been anointed the new face of baseball. Players smiled and joked, others were mic’d up and conducting interviews while in the field, and Seattle’s Nelson Cruz even brought a cell phone to the plate with him for a selfie attempt with home plate umpire Joe West, before relying on St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina to snap the picture himself.
The American League’s other run came in the fifth inning when the first wave of reserves helped give the junior circuit the lead. After Baltimore’s Jonathan Schoop doubled to left off of Los Angeles’ Alex Wood, Minnesota’s Miguel Sano (in for Jose Ramirez at third base) blooped a two-out single to right. Molina, out of his golden C-3PO catching gear, tied the game with a solo homer of his own off of Minnesota’s Ervin Santana.
The Tribe saw more than just contributions from Miller on the mound and Lindor in the field.
Ramirez, hitting second in the lineup and starting at third base after being voted in by the fans, put up an MVP-caliber performance. In a tough matchup with Washington’s Max Scherzer in the first, he drove a first-pitch single through the right side for the first hit of the ball game.
He was back to the plate in the top of the third against the third NL pitcher of the game, St. Louis’ Carlos Martinez. With two down, he took a first-pitch heater before again sending a single into right field, the first of just three players on the night who would tally multi-hit games (Colorado’s Nolan Arenado; Oakland’s Yonder Alonso) and just the eighth Indians player to ever do so (last done by Kenny Lofton in 1996). In what looked early on to have the makings of a close ball game, Ramirez tried to create a scoring opportunity when he picked off second base, but he was stranded as Judge grounded out to end the inning.
Ramirez recorded the final out of the third inning defensively on a grounder off of the bat of Washington’s Daniel Murphy to help the AL strand two NL runners in scoring position. He was lifted in the bottom of the fourth inning for Sano, but was actually eligible to re-enter the game later on if needed in an emergency as the one AL player designated to do so prior to the game (Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart held the same role for the NL).
Lindor entered for the AL in the bottom of the fifth, taking over for buddy Carlos Correa at short. The ball found him immediately, as the first batter of the inning, Cozart, grounded out to him. Lindor struck out swinging in the next half inning on a 3-2 pitch from Arizona’s Zack Greinke.
Michael Brantley was the last Indians position player to enter the contest, taking over for Houston’s George Springer in the bottom of the sixth inning, hitting cleanup and playing left field. The first ball hit to him came in the bottom of the seventh on a single by New York’s Michael Conforto, but he would be doubled up two pitches later as Cano and Lindor teamed up for the inning ending double play.
Brantley got his first at bat in the top of the eighth and had the luck of facing a long-time familiar face in Colorado’s Greg Holland, who had spent many years in the AL Central with the Kansas City Royals. He singled to right on a 3-2 pitch, but Lindor struck out swinging on three pitches to end the inning. Brantley would get a final at bat in the tenth, grounding into a 1-6-3 double play to conclude the top of the tenth after Cano had given the AL the lead.
The Indians will return to the diamond on Friday when they open a six-game road trip exclusively in the Bay Area. The first three games will pit the Tribe against the Oakland A’s before the Indians make the big move all the way over to San Francisco for three interleague games against the Giants.
Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images