The American League continued its dominance over the National League, in the 80th All-Star Game, with a crisp two hour, thirty-one minutes, 4-3 victory in the 2009 version of the mid-season Baseball Classic at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
This was the American League’s 12th straight victory dating back to 1997. The American League’s streak was interrupted by the infamous 7-7 tie game in 2002. So, this is actually the 13th straight year in which the National League has not won this event. And, exploring the American League’s dominance a little further … since 1988, the American League has won 18 of the last 22 All-Star Games, for a record of 18-3-1 over the National League during this time period.
Both, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera have now appeared in 10 All-Star Games apiece, and have never been on a losing American League team in this annual classic exhibition game featuring the greatest players in both leagues.
Mark Teixeira was the other Yankee representative in this year’s All-Star Game.
Roy “Doc” Halladay (10-3, 2.85), of the Toronto Blue Jays, started for the American League; and, Tim Lincecum (10-2, 2.33), of the S.F. Giants, started for the National League.
Both starters turned in very poor pitching performances — each lasting only two innings on the mound for their respective teams.
Maybe, all the pre-game festivities, which lasted almost an hour, affected both pitchers pre-game routines.
The game started about 8:45 p.m. ET, and, in my view, is too late to start a baseball game. The All-Star Game, as well as, all post-season games, should not start any later than 7:30 p.m. But, of course, the big television dollars are dictating the starting times, as usual.
Anyway, Lincecum started off very shaky, including, hitting Derek Jeter on the left hand with a pitch, in the top of the first inning, when the Amerian League jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead.
Halladay allowed all three National League runs in the bottom of the second inning, which moved the NL into a 3-2 lead.
From this point on, the American League pitchers retired 18 straight batters, as the AL scored a run off Dodgers pitcher Billingsley in the top of the fifth, that tied the score 3-3.
The biggest play of this game occurred in the bottom of the 7th inning, when Carl Crawford, of the Tampa Bay Rays, who was named the All-Star MVP, robbed a homerun off the bat of the Rockies Brad Hawpe, by making an unbelievable catch of the ball “over the wall” in left field. Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon was on the mound for the American League, and had a sigh of relief after that blast was caught.
In the top of the 8th, Tigers outfielder, Curtis Granderson, delivered another big play for the American League, when he hit a one-out triple off the left field wall. After, Victor Martinez of the Indians was intentionally walked, the Orioles Adam Jones, hit a sac-fly to right, that plated Granderson with the go-ahead run.
The AL now had a 4-3 lead as the game entered the bottom of the 8th inning.
After two outs in the 8th, Twins closer, Joe Nathan walked Adrian Gonzalez, and, then, gave up a single to Orlando Hudson that set-up a first and third situation for pinch-hitter Ryan Howard. But, Nathan got out of the jam by striking out Howard on a pitch in the dirt.
The game moved into the bottom of the 9th, after the AL did not score in the top of the inning.
The New York Yankees all-time “great” closer, Mariano Rivera, was now on the mound to protect the American League’s 4-3 lead.
The Great Mariano retired the first batter, Justin Upton, on a ground ball to short.
Rivera struck-out Brad Hawpe for out number two.
Then, Mariano got Miguel Tejada to pop-out to second base for the final out of the game, that preserved the 4-3 American League victory.
This was Mariano Rivera’s fourth career All-Star “save”, which is a record. And, Mariano has not allowed any earned runs in eight total innings, in eight All-Star appearances.
When, Derek Jeter, who scored two run in this game, was asked what he thought about Mariano closing out this win with his “record” fourth career All-Star save, Jeter said, ‘It’s another thing he can put on his Hall of Fame plaque, I guess’.
Well, after a boring “Home Run Derby” the other night, this was a very exciting “All-Star Game”.
This victory gives the American League the home-field advantage in the 2009 World Series. And, even though I still believe the team with the best record should have home-field advantage in the “Fall Classic”, it is a very sweet victory for the American League, once again.
Hopefully, the advantage gained from winning this All-Star Game will be just the advantage the American League needs to bring home victory in this year’s World Series.
— Jimmy, “BY&L”
Photo Credits: * google images / * www. fantelligence .com
Boxscore of the 80th All-Star Game, click on … AL 4, NL 3