Kansas City played host to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game for the second time Tuesday night, but despite the American League having the host city, it was all National League all night.
The hits and runs came early for Senior Circuit, and they never let up through the whole game. National League pitchers proved to be the better as well, as they held their American League opponents to only six hits throughout the game. In fact, five of the 11 NL All-Star pitchers posted perfect outings, with the league striking out seven and stranding eight AL players on base.
If the All-Star Game is any indication of the state of power in Major League Baseball, the National League proved it rests with them after an 8-0 shutout and their consecutive Midsummer Classic victory.
The game was filled with the most elite talent in baseball, and chief among them might be the American League starter, Justin Verlander. Verlander is known for turning on his stuff late, and it might have been more useful for him to have not started in 2012. Verlander gave up five earned runs in the first inning – the only inning he pitched – and scattered four hits with two walks. He also struck out two, but the hot start for the National League was too much for the American Leaguers to overcome.
In that first inning, Milwaukee’s only All-Star earned his first hit in any of his five All-Star appearances – a hard double to the top of the wall in right field, misplayed by Jose Bautista against the setting sun. The hit would drive in San Francisco Giant Melky Cabrera for the game’s first run. Later in the night, Ryan Braun would get his second hit, this time a triple. He became only the fifth All-Star in history to have a double and a triple in the same All-Star Game – following in the footsteps of Willie Mays and Kansas City’s own all-time favorite, George Brett.
It really was San Francisco’s night to shine, however, as Pablo Sandoval would drive in three runs with a triple two batters later. Matt Cain – making the start for the National League – would be the team’s official winning pitcher with two innings pitched, one hit and one strikeout. There was some contention over whether it would be Melky Cabrera or Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun for the All-Star Game MVP, but Cabrera got the deserved nod thanks in no small part to his two-run homer in the top of the
fourth inning. He would finish his All-Star day 2-3 with two runs batted in and two runs scored.
In the later innings, it was National League pitching that really won the day. The knuckleballing R.A. Dickey put on quite a show, with a strikeout and a scoreless inning, with some real funky wild pitches thrown in to boot. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw gave the American League their only real threat of the night with two surrendered hits and one walk, but he worked himself out of a jam and kept the shutout alive. The Reds’ Aroldis Chapman provided the excitment commensurate with his superhuman heat, but decided to leave out the somersaults on the big stage, despite endless pleading from some of his Senior Circuit teammates.
In all, it was exactly what you’d like to see if your a fan of National League baseball – young, elite talent showing the future of baseball is in good hands. There were contributions throughout the lineup, including a base hit legged out by Chipper Jones – perhaps the most fitting tribute to the future Hall of Famer’s career. He was chosen to give the pre-game speech by Tony LaRussa, and it looked like he had an effect, saying:
“There’s no way I’m losing in my last one.”
No worries about that one.