Today, the American and National Leagues met for the 90th All-Star Game, hosted this year in Cleveland at Progressive Field. The players arrived at the field with their families on the red carpet, looking stylish, greeting cheering fans, and posing for pictures. After a weekend of fan festivities and a rather eventful workout day and Home Run Derby, everything was leading up to this one exhibition game.
And for the seventh year in a row, the American League came out on top. This year, that was mostly due to their stellar pitching, AL pitchers collecting 16 total strikeouts on their road to victory. And the Yankees were represented on the field and on the mound, earning significant recognition for their efforts.
The AL hitters also got on the board first. In the 2nd, Bregman (Astros) hit a 1-out single and then scored on a double by Brantley (Astros). And the Yankees’ own Gary Sanchez led-off the 5th with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and scored on a single by Polanco (Twins).
The NL finally broke through the AL’s pitching in the 6th with a big 2-out solo home run up the middle by Blackmon (Rockies). But the AL came back in the 7th. Chapman (Athletics) worked a walk, got to 3rd on McCann’s (White Sox) single, and then scored on a double play incurred by Bogaerts (Red Sox). After the only mid-inning pitching change of the game, Gallo (Rangers) smacked a 1st pitch solo home run into the right field seats.
But the NL made their best effort at a rally in the 8th, loading up the bases with a walk to Grandal (Brewers), a single to Dahl (Rockies), and a 1-out walk to DeJong (Cardinals). After a strikeout, last night’s Home Run Derby champion Alonso (Mets) singled home the 2 lead runners to put the NL within a run. The remaining runners staged a double steal to move into scoring position, but a pop-up foul and great catch by McCann (White Sox) ended the NL’s hopes.
That, and an absolute stellar outing by Aroldis Chapman to close out the game and earn the save. Chapman needed just 12 pitches to breeze through his 3 batters for 3 great strikeouts to shut down the NL’s hopes of a comeback.
The powers that be decided that the All-Star Game’s MVP would be Cleveland’s own Shane Bieber. Bieber threw a 19-pitch scoreless 5th inning to strikeout the side, meaning he struck out all 3 batters he faced. The remaining crowd in Cleveland cheered on their hometown reliever, becoming the 3rd All-Star Game MVP to win in their own park (Pedro Martinez won in 1999 in Boston, and Sandy Alomar won in 1998 in Cleveland.) While Bieber did have a great outing, he wasn’t on my list (which was led by Chapman and Gallo), but then I don’t have a vote.
The Yankees were quite the contributors to the AL victory in the Midsummer Classic tonight. Offensively, it was a mixed bag. DJ LeMahieu went 0-for-2, Gleyber Torres got a single to lead off the 8th in one of his 2 at-bats, and Gary Sanchez went 1-for-2 with that lead-off double in the 5th and scored a run in that inning.
Defensively, Sanchez held his own behind the plate for the first half of the game, catching his battery mate Masahiro Tanaka through a scoreless 2nd inning and earned the eventual win. And I’ve already mentioned Aroldis Chapman’s great 9th outing and earned the save. They become the first Yankee teammates to earn the win and the save in an All-Star Game in over 70 years.
In a fun moment in the game, after his first two quick outs, Chapman was visited at the mound by CC Sabathia, who enjoyed stealing a moment of the game just to say hello to his teammate. It made Chapman laugh, and he sailed his way to victory on a swinging strikeout.
So, we can all blame Sabathia, who also threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Indians’ legend Sandy Alomar before the game. Maybe he was the true MVP all along…