National uprising: NL wins All-Star Game
Braves' McCann delivers the big blow in the seventh
ANAHEIM -- The National Pastime's Midsummer Classic no longer is the exclusive property of the American League, which was knocked out on Tuesday night without a swing from the Yankees' mighty Alex Rodriguez.
With Braves catcher Brian McCann delivering the big blow, the National League came from behind to bop the AL, 3-1, in front of 45,408 at Angel Stadium, providing home-field advantage in the World Series for its champion.
This is the first happy ending for the NL in an All-Star Game since 1996, ending a run of seven consecutive AL wins and 12 of 13, interrupted by a draw in 2002.
McCann's three-run double into the right-field corner off White Sox southpaw Matt Thornton earned him the Most Valuable Player distinction. The big hit came after singles by Scott Rolen and Matt Holliday had triggered the seventh-inning uprising against the Yankees' Phil Hughes.
"As a kid, this is what you dream about when you play baseball," McCann said.
After the Giants' Brian Wilson shut down the AL in the eighth, Jonathan Broxton of the Dodgers finished the job. And the dangerous Rodriguez made an exit stage left, the lone card left unused in the deck of AL manager Joe Girardi, A-Rod's skipper in the Bronx.
"I definitely was looking for him," said NL and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel when asked about A-Rod. "He's one of the better hitters in the game, if not the best. That was going through my mind."
Helping to seal the deal in the bottom of the ninth inning was a head's-up play by right fielder Marlon Byrd. With David Ortiz on first base, Byrd quickly scooped up a short bloop off the bat of John Buck to get the forceout at second base and prevent the tying run from ever reaching base.
"I was getting ready around the sixth inning on," A-Rod said. "Maybe next year."
Apart from A-Rod, his ace in the hole for a potential game-breaking situation, Girardi had few options available to run for Ortiz, only pitchers Fausto Carmona, Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria.
Facts and Figures from the 81st All-Star Game
|78,000||Pounds of ice used in concessions|
|800||Gallons of ketchup|
|10||Roster changes since original announcement|
|6||Number of pitches needed by Cliff Lee to retire the side in order in the fourth|
|45,408||Attendance for the game|
|64,036||Attendance for the 1989 game at Anaheim when it was multi-purpose|
|46,309||Attendance at the first game in Anaheim in 1967|
|85||Game-time temperature in sunny Southern California|
|9||Games Ichiro Suzuki has been AL leadoff hitter, one more than Rod Carew (AL) and Willie Mays (NL)|
|5||All-Star hitting streak for David Wright. He is 6-for-13|
|8||Number of times the All-Star Game has been scoreless through four innings|
|.435||Derek Jeter's All-Star BA (10-for-23) after going 1-for-2 with a walk|
|0||Number of home runs hit for the second consecutive year|
|6||Number hits by the American League, their lowest since six in 1999|
|5||Catchers who have been MVP: Gary Carter (1981, 1984), Terry Steinbach (1988), Mike Piazza (1996), Sandy Alomar Jr. (1997) and Brian McCann|
|11||Number of All-Star Games in California, the most for any state|
|340-339||After 81 All-Star Games, the A.L. has a cumulative one-run advantage|
|13||Number of father-son All-Star combinations. Nick Swisher joined his dad Steve (Cubs, 1976) in playing in the All-Star Game|
|9||Number of years since Andy Pettitte's last All-Star appearance. The longest between appearances was Bert Blyleven (1973 to 1985)|
|2:59||Time of game|
Beltre, the third AL third baseman of the night, struck out after Ortiz's liner to right opened the inning against Broxton. When Buck dropped his blooper in front of the Cubs' Byrd, the right fielder was on it quickly, pivoted and hurled a one-hop strike to beat Ortiz.
"He's very athletic, a very good outfielder," Kinsler said of Byrd, his former Rangers teammate. "He was able to pick that ball up, spin and make a strong throw. A very good play."
Before he realized who was out there, Kinsler felt for a moment that his drive toward the gap might fall.
"I thought it might get down, but those two guys [Byrd and Young] are both center fielders who can go get it," Kinsler said, "and Chris Young got there."
Thornton was close to escaping the seventh when he retired pinch-hitter Young on a popup. But McCann turned on an 0-1 fastball, a 98-mph bullet, to drive in Rolen, Holliday and Byrd, who had kept the winning rally alive with a full-count walk.
"Thornton has got one of best left-handed fastballs in the game," McCann said. "I sat on the fastball and tried to get my hands going a little early. I got a pitch to handle, and luckily I didn't miss it."
Andrew Bailey of the Athletics struck out Brandon Phillips to leave two runners stranded.
The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright snuffed a two-on threat in the seventh when he struck out hometown favorite Torii Hunter after retiring Vernon Wells on a forceout. Buck had doubled with one away off Holliday's glove in left.
"I wanted it real bad in that situation," Hunter said, "and that [Wainwright] was a bad card to draw. I never faced him before. He's good. He's nasty. He didn't throw me any fastballs. He threw nothing but curves and cutters."
Likewise, Wainwright was familiar with his opponent only as a television image.
"I just know what you see on TV," Wainwright said. "I've never faced him before. I know he's a good breaking-ball hitter when you leave it in the zone, and I know he's a pretty good fastball hitter when he's looking for it. So I just tried to make good quality pitches.
"If he's going to hit a good, quality pitch out of the park, that's fine. But I was just trying to not leave anything over the middle."
The AL seized the lead in the fifth inning without benefit of a hit.
Dodgers lefty Hong-Chih Kuo, the first Taiwan native to appear in the All-Star Game, lost leadoff man Evan Longoria leading off, and it cost the NL.
Longoria, behind 0-2 in the count, worked a walk, then Kuo then lobbed Joe Mauer's roller down the third-base line 15 feet over first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's head, the two-base error putting two men in scoring position.
Robinson Cano lofted a sacrifice fly to left, cashing in Longoria. Kuo got Carl Crawford on a force, and Heath Bell sprinted in from the bullpen to retire Hunter on a fly ball deep into the right-field corner to end the inning.
AL starter David Price set the tone quickly by pumping nothing but premium gas, 96 mph to 100 mph, in setting down the NL in the first two innings, with just one infield hit, by David Wright.
Ichiro Suzuki ended the first with a superb running catch in right center the snare Albert Pujols' drive. Price, the Rays' young ace, threw one off-speed pitch, a changeup, and 22 fastballs.
Ubaldo Jimenez, on the hill for the NL, was matching Price, heater for heater, in his two innings. The Rockies' right-hander pitched out of a first-inning jam following Derek Jeter's walk and a single to right by Miguel Cabrera that sent the Yankees' shortstop to third with one away.
Josh Hamilton grounded sharply back to Jimenez, who hit shortstop Hanley Ramirez in stride to turn a double play, quelling the threat.
Longoria's one-out double, a shot to left, wasn't cashed in by the AL in the second when Jimenez retired Mauer and Cano.
Two more lefties, Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee, followed Price to the mound and kept the NL silent. Pettitte struck out two while yielding a two-out single to Yadier Molina, and Lee dispatched the NL quickly in the fourth.
The Marlins' Josh Johnson, consistently throwing 97 mph to 98 mph, worked two perfect innings behind Jimenez. Ryan Braun made the defensive play of the night in left, robbing Hamilton in the fourth with a full-tilt dive.
The NL mounted a threat in the fifth against Justin Verlander, but the Tigers' hurler shut it down with more pure heat. After Wright led off with a single and stole second, Andre Ethier smoked a single to right. Hamilton, having moved over from center, kept Wright anchored at third with a bullet to home. Verlander struck out Corey Hart and retired pinch-hitter McCann on a drive that sent Hamilton to the edge of the track in right.
Jeter and Hamilton delivered singles in the sixth against Roy Halladay, but the AL was frustrated when Elvis Andrus was caught stealing and Matt Capps struck out Ortiz in a pinch-hitting role.
Capps, in his All-Star Game debut, claimed the victory. Hughes, from Foothill High School about 10 minutes away from Angel Stadium, absorbed the loss in his first All-Star appearance.
A moment of silence was observed before the game in the memory of Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner, who died on Tuesday morning, nine days after turning 80.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.