The 2017 All-Star Game had quite a bit to live up to after Monday night’s Home Run Derby, both taking place at Marlins Park in Miami.
On Monday night, New York Yankees’ rookie Aaron Judge annihilated the competition, hitting a grand total of 47 home runs and hitting four of those home runs over the 500-foot mark, the farthest ever recorded in the Statcast Era. Watch out, Barry Bonds!
Tuesday was almost completely the opposite in its appeal as there was very little in the way of offense from either league. Yet, it had a pleasant, almost silliness to it that made it just as enjoyable to watch for the more hardcore type of baseball fans.
As usual, each pitcher pitched a single inning, with the exception of the American League’s starter Chris Sale, who, despite being up against the best the National League had to offer, gave up three hits, no runs, and no walks while collecting two strikeouts over two innings.
Max Scherzer started for the N.L., pitching only the first inning, allowing one hit and striking out two batters, facing just one batter over the minimum.
Carlos Martinez, of the Saint Louis Cardinals, being the N.L.’s only pitcher to pitch two innings, worked the third and fourth innings, allowing just a hit and a walk. Martinez finished his two-inning stint in the 2017 MLB All-Star Game with four strikeouts.
The starting lineups for each league were as follows.
- Jose Altuve (Houston Astros), 2B
- Jose Ramirez (Cleveland Indians), 3B
- Aaron Judge (New York Yankees), RF
- George Springer (Astros), LF
- Carlos Correa (Astros), SS
- Justin Smoak (Toronto Blue Jays), 1B
- Corey Dickerson (Tampa Bay Rays), DH
- Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals), C
- Mookie Betts (Boston Red Sox), CF
- Starting Pitcher: Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox)
- Charlie Blackmon (Colorado Rockies), CF
- Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins), DH
- Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals), RF
- Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants), C
- Daniel Murphy (Nationals), 2B
- Nolan Arenado (Rockies), 3B
- Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals), 1B
- Marcell Ozuna (Marlins), LF
- Zack Cozart (Cincinnati Reds), SS
The 2017 All-Star roster reserves can be found at the Sporting News and that information will come in much handier than the starting lineups because it was a pitcher’s duel up until the top of the fifth inning, when the A.L. struck first.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood quickly retired Perez and Betts but allowed a double to the Baltimore Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop. Next, a Miguel Sano RBI single plated Schoop. It took Wood five pitches to retire the reigning Home Run Derby Champion Judge and the inning was over, the damage done.
It wasn’t impossible damage to make a comeback from, however, as the National League struck back in the bottom of the sixth on a home run to center by the St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina off of Minnesota Twins’ starter Johan Santana for the N.L.’s lone run of the game.
Molina, who was making his eighth All-Star appearance at the age of 34 and 363 days, became in that moment, the oldest catcher to ever homer in the All-Star Game, surpassing Yogi Berra who hit a home run in the 1959 All-Star Game at the age of 34 years and 84 days.
Molina also became just the sixth Cardinal to ever homer in the mid-summer classic. He ran the bases like a kid with the largest smile on his face.
“When you’re in the All-Star Game and facing good players, superstar players, and you get a hit like that, it’s a great moment,” Molina said after rounding the bases.
He later added that the 2017 All-Star Game was his most enjoyable since his very first one in 2009.
“I really liked it. I did have fun. I learned a lot here. This was one of the best ones.”
The game continued on without offensive action for three solid innings, but there were smiles all over the field. One has to wonder if it had anything to do with the pressure that was taken off of the players this season, after having 14 seasons in which the outcome of the All-Star Game determined home-field advantage for the winning league in the World Series.
It was a practice brought to light by former commissioner Bud Selig after a disastrous 2002 All-Star Game in which the two teams ended the game in a tie, as both sides had literally run out of pitchers.
However, as Blackmon explained prior to the start of Tuesday night’s game the decision, made by current commissioner Manfred, didn’t change the way the players approached the game.
“I don’t think the players are going to approach the game any differently. I think the game is something to be enjoyed by players, whether it counts or not. I think it’s a celebration of a good first half of baseball by most of the players, so I don’t think the outcome of the game is going to affect the game itself.”
Even after the Seattle Mariners’ star second baseman Robinson Cano hit a line drive home run off of Chicago Cubs closer Wade Davis in the top of the 10th to effectively win the game with Cleveland’s closer Andrew Miller coming in for the bottom of the 10th inning, there were smiles and jokes and just fun all around.
Boston’s Craig Kimbrel got the honor of winning pitcher, Davis was the losing pitcher and Miller was credited with the save.
The Ted Williams’ All-Star Game MVP Award was given to Cano for his late inning heroics. He was also allowed to choose between two Chevrolet cars — one a truck and the other a Corvette — as his prize. While there are a lot of players who’d have taken home the truck, there are just as many who would’ve wanted the Corvette — Cano chose the Corvette.
The All-Star Game this year at Marlins Park in Miami was successful in more ways than one. Some may argue that it was boring because of the lack of offense or that it was pointless because it no longer meant anything World Series related (in the event you may be wondering the team that now gets home-field advantage in the World Series is the team with the better record).
Yet, it was successful in that a lot of players got on base, each league left eight men on over the 10-inning stretch, so it was fun for them. It was a delight to watch the players messing around (like when the Mariners’ Nelson Cruz asked Molina to take a picture of him and the home plate umpire Joe West), smiling and having a good time.
The All-Star game isn’t fun every year, and there were people on Twitter who admitted to turning off the game once their team’s players had been relieved by others, but this year’s seemed to be enjoyable by most of the people watching at home according to social media trends.
As you may have guessed from doing the math, the American League won the game by the score of 2-1. It was the fifth straight All-Star Game taken by the A.L. but you never know, the National League could get them next year.
Now that it’s all about the fun and putting on a good show for the fans, it seems like the All-Star Game has a lot more opportunities to be a lot less intense and a lot zanier.
[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]