Prince Fielder powers National League to second straight All-Star Game victory

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The National League defeated the American League 5-1 at tonight’s All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, clinching home field advantage for the World Series for the second straight season. This is the first time the National League has won back-to-back All-Star Games since they took home three straight from 1994-1996.

Prince Fielder won the MVP for his go-ahead three-run homer off C.J. Wilson in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the National League’s pitching was dominant. The American League managed just six hits, the lone run scoring when Adrian Gonzalez took Cliff Lee deep in the top of the fourth inning. By the way, that home run by Gonzalez was the first homer in an All-Star Game since J.D. Drew in 2008.

Interestingly, Nationals right-hander Tyler Clippard was credited with the win, despite giving up a hit to the only batter he faced. Clippard came on in relief of Lee in the top of the fourth and gave up a single to Adrian Beltre, but Hunter Pence threw out Jose Bautista at home plate for the final out of the inning.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy selected four of his pitchers for the National League roster, but Brian Wilson was the only one who made an appearance. He recorded the final two outs of the ballgame after Joel Hanrahan ran into a little trouble, thanks to some sloppy defense. Coincidence or not, he used a pair of Phillies (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee) and three Braves pitchers (Jair Jurrjens, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel). All due to respect to Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, but if there’s anybody that needs a rest, it’s Venters and Kimbrel.

It was a quick game, just a hair under three hours, but I think we’ll hear a lot about who wasn’t there for the American League. And I’m not talking about Derek Jeter. The injury to Josh Beckett changed things a bit, but the only starters to pitch in the game for the American League were Jered Weaver, Michael Pineda, C.J Wilson, Alexi Ogando and Gio Gonzalez. And that’s obviously not the best the American League has to offer. If the All-Star game is supposed to “count,” something will have to change.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.