But in Tuesday night’s 83rd Summer Classic, the NL also displayed their power against one of the best pitchers regarded in baseball.
For fans around the world who were expecting this to be a pitchers duel and come down to a game-winning or go-ahead run late in the game, sadly they were disappointed with the utter demolition of Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander, who was named the American League All-Star starter for the first time in his career.
He looked anything but the part as the NL batted around the order in the first and showed the world that Verlander isn’t as intimidating as teams in the AL make him out to be.
While the AL ponders how the NL was able to take control of Verlander, they should also be questioning how they will be able to beat the NL in future All Star games as the NL’s aces (Stephen Strasbrug, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Cain, Clayton Kershaw and Craig Kimbrel) are young and coming back multiple times in their careers. Even with the AL’s star studded, high-powered offenses, the past three All Star games have been all about the NL pitching as they have allowed just one earned run for an ERA of 0.33 in all three NL victories.
The NL quickly got going with a one-out single by the San Francisco Giants’ Melky Cabrera, who put the NL on a tear they would not look back on for what must have felt like an eternity to Verlander. Ryan Braun followed with an RBI-single to give the NL the early lead and surprisingly, that would be all they needed as Tony La Russa could sit back and relax a little with the phenomenal quality arms he had at his disposal.
With two outs in the inning, last year’s Cy Young and AL MVP should have been able to get out without any further damage, but he proceeded to walk Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey, loading the bases for another Giant, Pablo Sandoval, who took complete advantage of an hanging curveball for the first ever bases-loaded RBI-triple in All Star game history, putting the NL up 4-0. The Braves’ Dan Uggla would drive in Sandoval with an RBI-single as the NL took a 5-run lead after half-an-inning of play and sucked out of all the fun from the AL players.
On the other side, Matt Cain was electric for the NL in two innings allowing only a Derek Jeter leadoff single.
The Giants, however, were far from done dominating the game and proving every naysayer out there who thought they were overrepresented at the All Star game with four starters.
In the fourth, Rafael Furcal kept the inning alive with a two-out triple, coming home for the NL’s sixth run on Matt Holliday’s single. Cabrera – who singled in the first that began the NL’s rally – crushed a 2-run home run from the Rangers’ Matt Harrison, pushing the NL’s lead 8-0. The blast gave Cabrera a 2-for-3 All Star performance with two RBI’s and the keys to a new 2013 Chevy Camaro as the MVP of the Mid Summer Classic.
The so-called “over-ballot-stuffed” Giants proved to the world they really do have All-Stars and deserved to be well represented as compared to the eight individuals from that team in Texas. Giants’ batters went a combined 4-for-7 (.571) to the Rangers’ 1-for-9 (.111) performance, as they should thank Nationals rookie Bryce Harper for losing Mike Napoli’s fly ball in the lights that dropped behind the young slugger and prevented the shutout for Rangers hitters.
Also in the fourth, Braun showed the entire MLB world why the NL was going to extend its winning streak to three.
After the Cabrera home run, Braun hustled around the second-base bag for a triple and the NL’s third on the night for another All Star game first. His speed in the bottom of that same inning showed him making a fantastic defensive play to rob his former teammate in Prince Fielder to end the inning. Even with a huge lead, the NL was playing every play like it was the last out of the game as the AL Stars looked disinterested in even playing the game after the five-run explosion in the first.
Despite the blowout and lack of interest TV ratings must have had after the fourth-inning, the ASG was a complete success.
Chipper Jones mustered out a single for his final All Star appearance and was smiling the entire time on the diamond until the side was retired. He along with La Russa will both leave their final All Star game with a win on their resume. That is the way to go out and how it should be for all the greats in baseball.
Even though Bryce Harper didn’t make much noise aside from stealing a base, the other rookie phenomenon, this one from Anaheim, was a stud in his two at-bats. Mike Trout went 1-for-1 with a walk and two stolen bases in his first All Star game appearance, too.
Aside from the White Sox Adam Dunn – who should’ve been the last AL batter – every position player from both leagues were entitled to at least one at-bat. That is a properly managed All Star game and how it should be. Too bad the only time it happens like that is in blowout matchups.
Now that we know the NL gets home-field advantage for the 2012 World Series, it will be interesting to see which team of the 10 or so contenders comes out with the pennant.
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