It was a star-studded night in St. Louis. Baseball legends, All-Stars, and even the President of the United States were in attendance for the 80th annual Major League Baseball All Star Game.
The American League has beaten the National League in 11 of the last mid-summer classics, and the trend continued tonight as the A.L. beat the N.L. by a score of 4-3.
Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays gets the nod for play of the game, as he saved the American League in the bottom of the seventh.
With Red Sox’ closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound and the game tied 3-3 Brad Hawpe of the Colorado Rockies hammered a long fly ball to left field that was on track to leaving the yard.
Crawford showcased some unique athleticism, leaping the wall and bringing the ball back into the park, saving Papelbon and the A.L. a run.
For his game-saving grab, Crawford was named the Ted Williams-All Star Game Most Valuable Player.
“I was just trying to contribute any way I could,” he told the press after the game.
“It means a lot, and I am happy to share it with my teammates.”
Crawford also stated that he could not recall ever stealing a home run in his career, and that he picked a good time to rob his first home run.
Curtis Granderson of the Detroit Tigers scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth. After Granderson hit a triple, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles knocked him in with a sacrifice fly to break the 3-3 tie and give the A.L. the lead.
The A.L. previously pushed three runs across the plate, getting two of their runs in the top of the first. Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira reached on an error by hometown first baseman Albert Pujols, allowing Derek Jeter to score.
Later in the frame, Texas Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton grounded into a fielder’s choice, enabling Minnesota Twins’ catcher Joe Mauer to score.
In the top of the fifth, Mauer doubled to score Jeter, completing the A.L. offense in the game.
The National League scraped three runs across the plate, all of which came in the bottom of the second inning.
Yadier Molina gave his hometown crowd something to cheer for, hitting a two-run single and reaching second base with some help on a throwing error by Hamilton to score Mets’ third baseman David Wright and Phillies’ outfielder Shane Victorino.
Home Run Derby winner Prince Fielder followed suit with a double to score Molina, finishing the N.L. run scoring in the game.
Papelbon gets the win, and now has one victory in All Star Game play.
San Diego Padres’ closer Heath Bell takes the loss, as he gave up the go-ahead run in the eighth.
Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera gets the save, and it was the fourth time he ended an All Star Game in his career. He is now the all-time saves leader in mid-summer classic history, passing Dennis Eckersley on the All Star Game saves list.
“It was great, I just thank the guys for giving me the opportunity,” he said after the game.
“It’s important, because whoever wins this gets home field advantage in the World Series. I really can just thank God.”
Along with nailing down his historic fourth All Star save, Rivera extended his streak to eight scoreless innings pitched in All Star Game play and also maintained his 0.00 ERA in All Star Game play.
Rivera’s previous All Star Game saves came in 1997, 2005, and 2006.
The American League has now won 12 of the last All Star Games played (not counting the 7-7 tie in 2002) although four of their last wins over the N.L. have come by a margin of only one run.
Tonight also marked the shortest All Star Game played since 1988, lasting only a mere two hours and 31 minutes.
Now that the American League has won the All Star Game, whichever team takes the A.L. title this year will receive home field advantage in the World Series, which will be played in October.
16 teams will resume regular season play on Thursday and the rest of the league will be back in action on Friday.