An American League park will host the World Series this year for the first time since 2009, as the Junior Circuit defeated the National League 3-0 on Tuesday night from Citi Field in New York.
It was an exciting and emotional night at the Midsummer Classic, to say the least, and there were many players who played a big role in the victory for the AL and the loss for the NL.
In big games like the one played on Tuesday, there are always going to be guys who are the heroes and those who are the goats.
So, who were the heroes and goats from this year's MLB All-Star Game? Here’s a look at a few of each, with analysis on how they performed at Citi Field for their respective league.
How about the hurlers for the Junior Circuit?
The pitchers for the American League couldn’t have been any better on Tuesday night, as they combined to shut out the National League while giving up just three hits. Only allowing four baserunners the entire night—Grant Balfour walked Michael Cuddyer—is truly remarkable.
The Senior Circuit didn’t even get its first hit until the fourth inning.
Max Scherzer, who’s 13-1 on the season, started the game in style. He tossed a perfect frame, striking out a batter. Chris Sale followed that up with a pair of scoreless innings and struck out two of the six batters he faced.
Matt Moore was flawless. Balfour was a little bit shaky, but he escaped without any damage. Greg Holland surrendered one of the three hits, but Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar made sure that the Royals closer wouldn’t have a tally in the earned run column at the end of the night.
The great Mariano Rivera pitched a picture-perfect eighth, and then Joe Nathan preserved the lead in the ninth to secure the victory and home-field advantage in the World Series for the Junior Circuit.
The complete line for the AL: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. Outstanding.
So, um, what happened?
The NL just barely escaped making history, as the record for the fewest hits in an MLB All-Star Game is two, set by the NL in 1990. If it weren’t for a ninth-inning double by Paul Goldschmidt, the Senior Circuit would’ve tied that record. But how was the offense so abysmal on Tuesday night?
Before the ninth inning, it appeared that no one on the NL could get a hit unless he currently or previously played for the hometown Mets. Carlos Beltran had the first hit of the night for the eventual losers, and David Wright, the captain for New York, had the other. Aside from Goldschmidt, everyone else was hitless.
Andrew McCutchen was the only player on the team with two strikeouts, but many of the NL stars looked foolish at the plate throughout the Midsummer Classic. Some of the stuff the AL pitching staff threw their way was just completely unhittable. Carlos Gonzalez, for example, didn’t have a chance against Chris Sale.
Unfortunately for the NL, they had no answer for any of the guys that took the mound for Jim Leyland’s squad. You aren’t going to win any games if you fail to push at least one batter across the plate.
Tuesday night was the first time the NL was shut out since 1990. Yikes.
The NL didn't win the 2013 All-Star Game, but Jose Fernandez was still fantastic.
The 20-year-old may not have the most experience of anyone on the NL’s pitching staff, but it didn’t seem to affect him. He didn’t even look nervous when he entered the game and was scheduled to face the 2-3-4 hitters in the AL’s stacked lineup. He showed why when he started throwing pitches their way.
First Batter: Dustin Pedroia (.316/.396/.436, 6 HR, 56 RBI)—Fernandez strikes Pedroia out looking.
Second Batter: Miguel Cabrera (.365/.458/.674, 30 HR, 95)—Cabrera fouls out to first base.
Third Batter: Chris Davis (.315/.392/.717, 37 HR, 93)—Fernandez strikes Davis out looking.
So, a pitcher for the Marlins with just 18 professional starts under his belt retired the two best hitters in baseball at the moment and the 2008 AL MVP. That’s quite the night for the right-hander, even if Miami isn’t going to be getting home-field advantage in the World Series.
Jayson Stark of ESPN reports that only two other players in the history of the MLB All-Star Game have struck out two or more batters during the exhibition at 20 years old or younger. Those two pitchers just happen to be Dwight Gooden and Bob Feller. Stark calls it a “fun group.” Yeah, that sounds about right.
Someone was going to have to take the loss for one of the leagues. It just happened to be Patrick Corbin, who has proven himself to be among the top young lefties in the game.
At the All-Star break, the Diamondbacks star was 11-1 with a 2.35 ERA. He was also averaging 7.53 strikeouts and 2.28 walks per nine innings. Those numbers didn’t seem to scare the AL batters.
Corbin entered the game in the top of the fourth, looking to keep the AL scoreless.
That didn’t happen.
Miguel Cabrera welcomed Corbin into the game with a double to right center field. Chris Davis then singled to right field, and the AL quickly had men on first and third without anybody out. Jose Bautista stepped into the box in a prime position to get the Junior Circuit on the board.
Bautista hit a high fly ball to Bryce Harper in center field. It was deep enough for Cabrera to jog home to score the Midsummer Classic’s first run.
Corbin would avoid further damage after getting David Ortiz to bounce into an inning-ending double play. But that one run was enough to defeat the NL.
The final line on Corbin: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (L)
The hero of all heroes.
Everyone knew that Tuesday night was going to be special, as Mariano Rivera would be jogging in from the Citi Field bullpen for the last time at an MLB All-Star Game. Leyland decided to have Rivera pitch the eighth instead of the ninth to make sure he was pitching with a lead and definitely in the game.
The bullpen doors opened and out came the best closer of all time.
It was quite the moment in Queens when Rivera took the mound, and his teammates decided to stay back and let him have the time to himself. With everyone giving him a standing ovation, it couldn’t have been a better exit for the Yankee great.
Rivera was sharp when he actually started facing the NL batters, coming into the game with the AL leading 3-0. He got Jean Segura to ground out to second base. Allen Craig hit a liner to left field for the second out of the inning. And then Carlos Gomez grounded out to shortstop.
A perfect inning.
Rivera was later named the All-Star Game’s MVP, the first reliever in the exhibition’s history to win the award. It was also the first time a pitcher was given earned the honor since Pedro Martinez in 1999. No one deserved the MVP more than Rivera. It was his night, and if you missed it, you missed one of the greatest innings ever.