July 24, 2019

American League Grabs 7th Straight All-Star Win

American League Grabs 7th Straight All-Star Win


CLEVELAND — Justin Verlander, Shane Bieber and the American League pitchers plugged power back into the mound.

A day after an awesome Home Run Derby got baseball buzzing even more about monster shots, only a couple balls flew out of Progressive Field at the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Instead, Verlander blazed 97 mile-per-hour heat from the start, Bieber struck out the side and the A.L. staff combined to fan 16, topping the National League, 4-3, for its seventh straight win.

The champion of the derby, Pete Alonso of the Mets, grounded a two-out, two-run single past Gleyber Torres of the Yankees in the eighth to pull the N.L. within a run. After a double steal put runners at second and third against Cleveland reliever Brad Hand, White Sox catcher James McCann made a tumbling catch on Mike Moustakas’s twisting foul pop to end the inning.

Aroldis Chapman threw a perfect ninth to give the A.L. its 19th win 22 games, with a tie stuck in there. Chapman got a little encouragement with two outs — his Yankees teammate C.C. Sabathia, who began his career in Cleveland and was honored this week for his contributions on and off the field, strolled to the mound to talk to the hard thrower.

Chapman then struck out Yasmani Grandal for a save, giving the A.L. an overall 45-43-2 lead in the Midsummer Classic.

No need, either, for the experimental rule that was set to go effect: If the game went into extras, each team would start the 10th with an automatic runner on second base.

Major League Baseball is on a record-shattering pace for homers this season, but no one came close to clearing the walls until Charlie Blackmon connected in the sixth for the National League. The Rangers’ Joey Gallo countered with a solo drive in the seventh.

Still, it was a far cry from last year’s All-Star Game that featured a record 10 home runs.

Instead, the Cleveland favorite Michael Brantley had an early R.B.I. double off the losing pitcher, Clayton Kershaw; Jorge Polanco drove in a run with an infield single; and another scored on a double-play grounder.

The winning pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, Lucas Giolito and Shane Greene did their part to protect the lead with scoreless innings.

Bieber earned the M.V.P. Award in front of his home fans, striking out Willson Contreras, Ketel Marte and Ronald Acuna Jr. in the fifth.

Fittingly, the first batter of the game was the guy who leads the majors in home runs — Christian Yelich, the reigning M.V.P. who has 31 homers at the break.

Yelich lined out and Verlander quickly fanned Javier Baez and Freddie Freeman to finish his work. Those juiced balls that Verlander is complaining about? Didn’t bother him a bit.

Baez came up again in the third with a bright red bat, stepped out of the box and playfully waved to his pal Francisco Lindor in the A.L. dugout.

Starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Mets ace Jacob deGrom and Luis Castillo threw scoreless innings to keep the N.L. close in the early going.

The Pittsburgh slugger Josh Bell was part of the youngest starting lineup in All-Star history, with the N.L. crew averaging under 26 years old.

Over all, there were 36 first-timers, a number boosted by the absence of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Jose Altuve and several past perennials. And consider this: Of the 16 A.L. pitchers on the 2017 All-Star roster, zero made the roster this year.



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