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.
The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”
Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”
Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”
Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.
Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.
It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.