Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect eighth inning to preserve the lead for the American League.
Tuesday night's 2013 MLB All-Star Game was a learning experience. Between the first pitch and the final out that sealed the American League's 3-0 victory, several truths became crystal clear.
Even the most extreme baseball fanatics can't keep tabs on every outstanding player during the regular season. That's why the Midsummer Classic is so important: It puts the world's best on display at the same time.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the thrilling showdown at Citi Field.
The reigning American League Triple Crown winner actually had a productive evening with a double and the game's first run scored. Even his fielding at third base was flawless.
Unfortunately for Miguel Cabrera, because he's held to such lofty standards, we're more intrigued by his mistakes. He made a few at this Midsummer Classic.
There were two teammates on base with nobody out when Cabrera stepped to the plate in the first inning. Realize that he's boasting an otherworldly .443/.555/.906 batting line with runners in scoring position this summer.
Shockingly, the superstar went down swinging on a slider out of the strike zone, and NL starter Matt Harvey made it through the opening frame unscathed.
Next time up, Cabrera's opponent was Patrick Corbin. He deposited the fourth pitch of their duel into the right-center field gap, but not with his original bat. That one went flying about a dozen rows into the crowd, via Guyism.com.
So there you go—proof that Cabrera can look overmatched in the batter's box, albeit against All-Star-caliber opponents.
Jason Grilli of the Pittsburgh Pirates
This year's Midsummer Classic set a major league record with 39 first-time All-Stars.
Aside from their inexperience on the international stage, those players have very little in common.
Consider 20-year-old rookie Jose Fernandez. He wasn't even projected to debut during the first half, but he bypassed both Double-A and Triple-A when the Miami Marlins lost several starting pitchers to injury in spring training. On the strength of a 2.75 ERA and .196 BAA, Fernandez served as the franchise's lone representative.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Pittsburgh Pirates closer Jason Grilli made the trip to Queens at age 36. He entered the break with seven times as many strikeouts as walks and one of the highest WAR values among MLB relievers. Hard to believe that on this date in 2011, the energetic right-hander was proving himself on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Also, let's acknowledge AL Final Vote winner Steve Delabar. Mike Axisa of CBS Sports recalled his improbable path from substitute teacher to elite setup man.
Completely different journeys. Comparable success under the brightest lights (combined 0 ER, 3 K in 2.1 IP).
The longtime major league catcher who turns 72 this October announced this spring that he would be retiring from the broadcast booth following the 2013 season.
Tim McCarver has been one of Fox's national broadcasters for what seems like an eternity (since 1996, to be exact). Although he is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Ford C. Frick Award winner, many fans take exception to his old-school, nonsensical analysis and lack of enthusiasm.
However, he pleasantly surprised us during the All-Star Game when Mariano Rivera came jogging in from the bullpen to pitch the eighth inning. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" blasted through the stadium speakers, and McCarver spent a few minutes analyzing the lyrics.
It was awkward, yet extraordinarily original.
The greatest closer in baseball history took the mound in a rare non-save situation.
Judging by the thunderous applause from the 45,186 in attendance (via MLB.com), nobody objected to Jim Leyland's decision. Keep in mind, the majority of those who cheered were New York Mets fans supporting the National League.
Rivera receive preferential treatment not only from the opposition, but from MLB officials as well. They named him the 2013 All-Star Game MVP for his scoreless, 16-pitch effort, which set a new precedent. No other reliever had ever claimed that hardware since its inception in 1962.
I could go on and on about postgame compliments Mo is receiving from bloggers, television and radio analysts, little Italian grandmothers, etc., but you get the point—he's universally beloved.