Washington Nationals Trio Produces Highs and Lows at 2012 MLB All-Star Game
For the first time since baseball returned to Washington, the Nationals sent more than one representative to the MLB All-Star Game.
Unfortunately, some of the plays may make it to the blooper reel.
Gonzalez was first to take the stage. The 26-year-old left-hander took the mound in the bottom of the third inning in place of San Francisco Giant Matt Cain, the NL starter.
Gonzalez struck out Rangers catcher Mike Napoli with his signature sweeping curveball to lead off the inning. Gonzalez then faced two consecutive Yankees in center fielder Curtis Granderson and shortstop Derek Jeter. He got Granderson to fly out to left and Jeter to ground out to short to retire the side while throwing only 11 pitches.
In the bottom of the fourth, Gonzalez gave way to teammate Strasburg, and the 23-year-old also held the American League in check. Strasburg gave up a single to Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano before inducing a 6-4-3 double play by Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton, who played left field in this game.
Strasburg then started Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista with some chin music before losing him to a walk on a border line call. He was able to retire Home Run Derby champ Prince Fielder of the Tigers on a long fly ball to Fielder's former Milwaukee teammate Ryan Braun in left field to preserve the shutout.
And then there was Harper. The youngest position player to ever be selected to an All-Star game led off the top of the fifth inning with a fashion statement. He stole the spotlight with his golden spikes before drawing a walk from Angels pitcher Jered Weaver. He then caught another outfielder unawares in Josh Hamilton by tagging from first on a long fly ball by Giants catcher Buster Posey.
Which Washington Nationals player had the most memorable night at the 2012 All-Star Game?
But his baserunning aggressiveness came back to haunt him on the very next play. Weaver made a nice snag on a hot shot up the box by New York Mets third baseman David Wright, and Harper was tagged out in a rundown between second and third.
Harper stayed in the game in the bottom of the fifth to play left field, and there the adventure continued. After David Ortiz singled, Mike Napoli hit a fly ball to Harper in left field. But Harper lost the ball in the evening sky, and it fell in behind him. Ortiz advanced to second with Napoli at first.
The bases were loaded later in the inning with two outs and Ian Kinsler at the plate. The Rangers second baseman hit another fly ball to Harper, but he was able to make the catch this time to end the inning.
Harper's next and final at-bat came in the top of the seventh, as he led off the inning. He struck out looking against Oakland Athletics pitcher Ryan Cook. He then finished his night in the field by catching another long fly ball, this time off the bat of regional rival and Orioles catcher Matt Wieters.
The night ended well for the National League. The Senior Circuit won its third straight Midsummer Classic by a resounding score of 8-0.
All in all, the night also ended well for the Washington Nationals. While Gonzalez and Strasburg bruised the collective egos of the American League hitters, Harper had his own ego bruised a little.
But Harper will have plenty of All-Star opportunities to redeem himself.
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