Many standouts for Brewers' All-Star trio
Midsummer Classic an experience for Sheets, Braun and Hart
NEW YORK -- During an on-field ceremony featuring 49 Hall of Famers before the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, National League starting pitcher Ben Sheets probably should have been in the bullpen, he said, but he didn't care.
He and American League starter Cliff Lee were introduced on the public address system and jogged to the field to shake hands with legends like Bob Gibson, Don Sutton and Gaylord Perry.
"I wanted to be a part of it, so warming up had to wait a little bit, because it was unbelievable that they got all those guys together and I wanted to be a part of it," Sheets said.
Sheets and Lee were asked if they wanted to take part in the ceremony, and they agreed to. Once it was over, Sheets warmed up and tossed two shutout innings. He allowed one hit and two walks while striking out three in the AL's 4-3 win over the NL in 15 innings.
Sheets (10-3, 2.85 ERA) is the first pitcher in franchise history to start an All-Star Game, and he said he was able calm himself down before the significant outing at Yankee Stadium, more nervous to meet the players pregame.
"It's weird, because it became a baseball game once I got out there," Sheets said. "Even when I got in the dugout and the game started, everything just kind of calmed down, which was good."
When Sheets began, he had teammate Ryan Braun in left field. Braun was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the plate, and despite going hitless, he enjoyed the experience.
"It's awesome, man," Braun said. "It really is a dream come true. It's a really special opportunity. It's a real rewarding feeling, knowing all the hard work, all the effort that I've put into this game, has really paid off."
Braun (.286, 23 home runs, 66 RBIs, eight stolen bases in the first half of 2008) was elected as an All-Star starter by the fans in his first full season in the Majors and his first season in the outfield. Before the game, a conversation with St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols stood out.
"He's so talented," Braun said of Pujols. "It's kind of a learning experience for me. He gave me some advice about the [Home Run Derby on Monday]. I talked to him a little about plate discipline. I think he's the best hitter in the game today. Anything I can pick up from him is really going to help me out."
Corey Hart, the last of the Brewers' All-Star trio, selected to the team by the NL's Final Vote, went 0-for-3 with one strikeout.
Hart's throw to home plate on Michael Young's game-winning sacrifice was close -- "It was kind of deep, and I was just trying to get a strong throw," Hart said -- but he still enjoyed the contest, playing much more (10 innings) than a reserve usually does.
"I wanted it to keep going," said Hart, who carried a .289 batting average, 15 home runs, 58 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in the season's first half. "It was such a good game."
While the second half of the season continues on Friday against San Francisco, Sheets will take the mound on Saturday. He said he'll be fine after throwing 42 pitches Tuesday, and he "needed that," because it he hadn't pitched since starting against Colorado on July 9.
In the second inning, Sheets retired three Boston batters, two with strikeouts -- much to the New York fans' pleasure -- and before he exited the stadium, he speculated what kind of goodbye he'd get.
Said Sheets: "I'll probably get a standing ovation when I get out of here, pats on the back or something."
Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.