Despite a good performance by the Tampa Bay Rays All-Stars, the American League still lost the 2010 All-Star Game last night by a score of 3-1 to the National League, who won the annual event for the first time since 1996 – the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a tie. The win gives the National League home field advantage in the World Series. In addition to many exciting moments over the past week, the All-Star event also experienced some sadness.
The game opened with a moment of silence for George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees. He died the morning of the game at the age of 80. Under Steinbrenner’s ownership. the Yankees won 11 pennants and 7 World Series. Fans may have disagreed with his tactics, but few can deny that Steinbrenner had a tremendous influence on Major League Baseball. Many will miss him.
The All-Star event for many started on Monday night with the Home Run Derby. David Ortiz (aka Big Papi), the Boston Red Sox’s famous slugger, participated for the fourth time and won the event. Milwaukee Brewers hitter Corey Hart highlighted the first round with 13 homers, but had nothing left for the next one.
After two rounds, Florida Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez and Ortiz were tied with 21 home runs each. In the third and final round. Big Papi hit another 11 home runs to win, which tied the final round record set by Bobby Abreu in 2005. Afterwards, an exuberant Ortiz lofted the trophy over his head. His large smile said it all, and set the scene for the main event the next day.
The All-Star Game provided fans with an exhibition of outstanding pitching. Tampa Bay’s David Price started the game for the American League, and Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez took the mound for the National League. All told, the American League pitchers dished up seven hits, while the winning team gave up six. The National League struck out eight batters, and the American League pitchers struck out 10 in a losing effort. In the top of the ninth, Detroit’s Jose Valverde struck out the three batters he faced.
Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria started out the game with a double off Jimenez, but the American League could not capitalize on it, and Longoria was left stranded. The Rays star third baseman walked in the fifth and scored the American League’s only run on a Robinson Cano sac fly. Also representing Tampa Bay in the game was veteran outfielder Carl Crawford, who walked and stole a base, and closer Rafael Soriano, who pitched a hitless eighth inning.
For the National League, their offense occurred in the seventh inning. Braves catcher Brian McCann hit a bases-clearing three-run double off of White Sox reliever Matt Thornton that would eventually turn out to be the game winner. Two of the runs were charged to Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes. McCann won the Ted Williams All-Star MVP for his efforts and marked the first time an NL catcher won the award since Mike Piazza earned it in 1996.
If the Braves make it to the World Series, they can thank their catcher for providing them with the home field advantage. Heading into the seconf half of the season, they currently lead the National League East by four games over the New York Mets.