NL dominates in first All-Star shutout since 1996

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It was all National League, right from the start.

Pablo Sandoval and company jumped on Justin Verlander to take a 5-0 lead in the top of the first and cruised from there on the way to an 8-0 victory for the NL in the 83rd All-Star Game, the third straight win for the Senior Circuit.

Sandoval delivered the first bases-loaded triple in All-Star Game history in the first off Verlander. Giants teammate Melky Cabrera proved to be the game’s MVP. He singled and scored in the first and later hit a two-run homer in the fourth, concluding the scoring for the night.

Verlander joined Jim Palmer (AL, 1977), Tom Glavine (NL, 1992) and Roger Clemens (NL, 2004) as the only starters to give up at least five runs in an All-Star Game.

The shutout was the first since the NL blanked the AL 6-0 in 1996. The lone common player in that game and this one was Chipper Jones, who had a single tonight in his final All-Star appearance.

While this one was a rout, the National Leaguers did all of their scoring in two frames. Besides Verlander, only the Rangers’ Matt Harrison got hit, giving up three runs in the fourth. A’s rookie Ryan Cook was particularly impressive, striking out two in an 11-pitch seventh inning.

Matt Cain pitched two scoreless innings after getting the call to start for the NL team. Only Clayton Kershaw, who gave up two hits and a walk (one of the hits coming on a ball left fielder Bryce Harper lost in the lights), had to pitch his way out of trouble.

No American Leaguer had multiple hits, but rookie Mike Trout singled and walked. He also became the first baserunner all year to steal a base off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Besides the two Giants, the NL’s third offensive star was Ryan Braun, who doubled and tripled. The NL team had three triples in all; one apiece from Braun, Sandoval and Rafael Furcal.

Fernando Rodney gives up walk-off homer to Gary Sanchez

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The Fernando Rodney Experience hasn’t been a good one for the Twins thus far. The veteran closer served up three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to the Yankees on Thursday afternoon, erasing a 4-1 lead and blowing his third save in five opportunities.

In the ninth, Didi Gregorius reached on a throwing error by Miguel Sano. Giancarlo Stanton then singled, and Gary Sanchez followed up with a walk-off three-run home run.

Rodney, 41, now sports a 6.75 ERA on the year. He inked a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Twins back in December. The club has an option for next year worth $4.25 million. If things keep going the way they’re going, the Twins aren’t going to want to pick up that option.

The Twins may even want to think about moving Ryan Pressly or Addison Reed into the closer’s role, even if just temporarily. Pressly has been terrific, tossing 13 scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts. Reed has a 2.25 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 12 innings.