Grading the Detroit Tigers in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game
Although Justin Verlander was unable to play, the Tigers made quite an impression at Citi Field during the Midsummer Classic, providing everything from a Home Run Derby participant and a pregame speech, to a crucial double in-game and a comical triple.
The AL defeated the National League for the first time in four years on Tuesday night, 3-0, ensuring the AL champions will have home-field advantage in this year's World Series.
Here are the grades for the Tigers in the 2013 All-Star Game.
Jim Leyland: A+
First of all, Leyland deserves an A for that suit on the red carpet Camaro ride prior to the All-Star Game.
And in-game, Leyland pushed all the correct buttons.
Being an All-Star manager is very difficult, balancing superstar personalities and talent, with the correct decisions to win your league home-field advantage in the World Series.
While Leyland made all the correct offensive moves, he took some flack for pitching Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning, instead of allowing him to close out his last All-Star Game.
Although in retrospect, Leyland could've waited until the ninth to unleash Rivera and "Enter Sandman," if things had gone differently and the AL lost the lead, Leyland would've gotten destroyed if Rivera didn't get his tribute.
"You know, I'm probably not the most popular manager in baseball," Leyland said to MLive.com, "and I wanted to make sure I got out of here alive."
Rivera was clearly okay with the moves his All-Star manager elected to make.
"We talked about it in batting practice," Rivera said. "He told me that he wanted to make sure I pitched. You don't know what can happen in the game of baseball. I think the plan was perfect."
Max Scherzer: A+
After NL starter Matt Harvey got into trouble in the top of the first inning, Max Scherzer threw a quick, flawless first that got the AL off to a good start.
Pitching on short rest, Scherzer threw 12 pitches—including eight strikes—disposing of Brandon Phillips, Carlos Beltran and striking out Joey Votto to end the first inning, 1-2-3.
Miguel Cabrera: B+
Miguel Cabrera was one of only three AL All-Stars to get three at-bats on Tuesday night, and the defending Triple Crown Winner and MVP made his presence felt.
After striking out with two runners on and no outs in the first inning, Cabrera stepped to the plate in the fourth and crushed a leadoff double to end a streak of nine consecutive outs by AL hitters.
After a Chris Davis single advanced Cabrera to third, the Tigers' third baseman was able to score on a sacrifice fly by Jose Bautista, which would prove to be the game-winning run.
He fouled out in the next at-bat in the sixth inning, finishing the night 1-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a strikeout. He saw 12 pitches and played solid defense, helping the AL earn the win.
Prince Fielder: A+
Prince Fielder's leadoff triple in the ninth inning showed everything that's great about the All-Star Game and about baseball in general.
After entering the game on defense in the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers' 275-pound first baseman (questionable, at best), who has 10 career triples and only one since 2011, hit a tweener to right field that got past a diving Carlos Gomez.
Fielder got on his horse—or in his case a Clydesdale—and slid safely head first into third.
Fielder isn't exactly a gazelle on the base paths and doesn't exactly have a knack for sliding, but somehow, someway the big fella motored into third and showed one of the best reactions you will ever see by a professional athlete in the moment.
The AL couldn't capitalize on the leadoff triple and Fielder was stranded at third, but dugout reaction, including Mariano Rivera's, was priceless.
Jhonny Peralta: A
After entering the game on defense in the bottom of the seventh inning, Jhonny Peralta was flawless on defense and earned a single during his only at-bat in the eighth inning, putting two men on base for the AL.
Peralta was put out at second base on a Torii Hunter double play, but the AL went on to score an insurance run, building the lead.
Torii Hunter: B
Torii Hunter earns a pass for hitting into a 6-4-3 double play during his only at-bat in the seventh inning because of his pre-game speech.
Hunter, who got to re-live his glory days and play in center field during the All-Star Game made his presence felt in the clubhouse when he gave a World Series Game 7-worthy pre-game speech that focused on Mariano Rivera.
"That was the plan," Hunter said to MLB.com about Rivera earning MVP honors. "We had a meeting earlier before the game. We went out there and tried to give it our all for him. Those guys on the National League side over there have a lot of good pitching, and we got three runs off some good pitchers over there. Mariano came in, man, it was a great moment. He's one of the great pitchers to ever play this game and I'm honored to play behind him in center field. It was a great night."
Justin Verlander: A
Even though Verlander was scratched from the lineup because he left Sunday's game with quad tightness, the Tigers' ace was a great ambassador for baseball throughout the All-Star break.
Instead of staying at home with his family, or teeing it up for a couple rounds of golf, Verlander traveled to New York and was a part of everything.
He was extremely visible during the home run derby, cheering on teammate Prince Fielder and chopping it up with fellow players, and he was the first person to greet Mariano Rivera as he exited the field for the last time as an All-Star.
Showing nothing but respect, Verlander stepped outside the dugout to give Rivera a hug in a touching moment during Rivera's All-Star Game swan song.
Verlander could've taken a much-needed vacation during the break but chose to be in New York for his teammates and for the game of baseball.
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