85th MLB All Star Game

American League beats National League 5-3 in 2014 All-Star Game; Mike Trout named MVP

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source: Getty Images

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — In a season where offense has been hard to come by, the hitters weren’t all that fooled in the 2014 All-Star Game. At least not early on. And heck, even if they were, word on the street was that some pitchers were throwing meatballs to some hitters on purpose, so it’s hard to know what to take away from this one. We can say this much for absolute certain: the A.L. beat the N.L. 5-3.

Well, obviously we can take all of the Jeter stuff away. In an age when simplicity and dignity are often secondary concerns, Jeter’s exit from the Midsummer Classic was very welcome indeed. No speeches. No excessive stoppages of play. The tributes — at least the ones we could see in the ballpark — did not skew maudlin and treacly. It was much like we saw in that Nike commercial the other day: a lot of hat-tipping and nodding and that felt right.

But he was not named the MVP, contrary to what so many thought would happen no matter how he did. Rather, the MVP Award went to Mike Trout. Who, unlike was the case the past couple of years, won it thanks in part to the superior numbers even if he didn’t have the superior story.

As for the game itself, the Americans struck with three early thanks to Trout tripling in Jeter and Miguel Cabrera blasting one over the fence in the first. The Nationals struck back in the second thanks to back-to-back doubles by Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy, who is second in the National League in doubles with 32 so far, doubled again in the fourth to plate Dee Gordon and tie it up at three. Mike Trout struck again with an RBI double in the fifth which also advanced Alexei Ramirez to third. Ramirez then scored on a Jose Altuve sacrifice fly to make it 5-3, American League.

At that point things went the way they always tend to go at the All-Star Game these days: constant substitutions, an increasingly scary assortment of fresh relief pitchers who know they have two days off after this and a lot of shaky defense. No one broke through for anything after the fifth. The one nice thing from the tail end of the game was John Farrell giving Minnesota Twin — and Minnesota native — Glen Perkins the ninth inning. Perkins set the N.L. down 1-2-3 for the save.

Some random facts:

  • Jeter ends his All-Star Game career 13 for 27. It was his third All-Star Game with multiple hits, having done so in 2000 and 2004 when he went 3 for 3.
  • Lucroy’s two doubles ties an All-Star record. It’s one held by many, as nine dudes have done it overall, but Lucroy joins Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Paul Konerko, Damian Miller (really?!), Ernie Banks, Ted Kluszewski, Joe Medwick and Al Simmons in that club.
  • Adam Wainwright — who maybe shouldn’t have started! — gave up three runs in the first inning. In 19 starts this year he allowed just four first inning earned runs total. Of course, in those 19 starts he wasn’t facing multiple potential first-ballot Hall of Famers like Jeter, Cabrera and Trout.
  • Mike Trout is loving life in All-Star Games. He went 2 for 3 with two RBI here and is 4 for 7 with two doubles and a triple in his three All-Star Game appearances. Now he’s the MVP.

But the only stat that actually counts — at least, the only one we’re told to say counts — is the win. Which goes to the A.L. And, along with it, home field advantage in the World Series for the A.L. pennant winner.

Video: Adrian Beltre belts a walk-off home run on Monday against the Athletics

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 25:  The Texas Rangers celebrate the two-run walk off homerun by Adrian Beltre #29 against the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Rangers found themselves in a 5-1 hole after three innings against the Athletics on Monday, but scratched out some runs in the middle innings. That allowed them to enter the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by only one run, 6-5, facing A’s closer Ryan Madson.

Adrian Beltre, who hit a solo home run in the seventh inning, stepped to the plate with a runner on first base and two outs. He was the Rangers’ last hope to keep the game alive. The veteran third baseman swung at Madson’s first pitch, a 96 MPH fastball, and drilled it to left-center field for a walk-off two-run home run.

Beltre now has nine walk-off home runs in his career. While the 37-year-old isn’t quite the offensive dynamo he was even two years ago, his numbers are still respectable. He’ll head into Tuesday’s action batting .281/.334/.468 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 392 plate appearances.

Jay Bruce: “This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving.”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 25:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds swings and watches the flight of his ball as he hits a two-run homer against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fourth inning at AT&T Park on July 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Outfielder Jay Bruce was the catalyst in the Reds’ 7-5 victory over the Giants on Monday night, drilling a pair of two-run home runs. It’s good timing for the Reds, as the trade deadline is six days away. The Reds might prefer to get a prospect or two for Bruce rather than pick up his $13 million club option for 2017 or buy him out for $1 million and let him walk into free agency.

It was only a year ago that it seemed like the Reds would have to settle for next-to-nothing to get rid of Bruce. He posted career-lows across the board in 2014, including a .654 OPS and 18 home runs. He improved last season, returning to 26 home runs, but came with an uninspiring .729 OPS.

This year is another story. Bruce is currently hitting .272/.326/.564 with 23 home runs and a league-best 77 RBI. He’s on pace to set career-bests in a lot of categories if he’s able to stay healthy.

Bruce was honest about his resurgence, though, admitting that he doesn’t know why he’s so much better this year as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving. You’re never settled. You’ve never got it. You’ve never figured it out. It’s like a puzzle that never has all the pieces to it. You might get close and feel pretty good about your progress, but you never are going to have the puzzle put together.

Bruce, who welcomed a child into the world back in April, also discussed the difficulties of hearing his name bandied about in trade rumors once again.

It’s harder this year. I have a family I have to focus on now. Logistically, it’s much more intricate. I know the skit. I know how it goes. But it will be nice when it’s passed because we’ll have a plan of attack on whether my family is staying where they are in Cincinnati or elsewhere.

This is a point of view that is not often covered. This time of the year can be very difficult for players who may be traded, as they await a phone call that could send their lives into upheaval. It may mean being away from their families for three months. It means living out of a hotel room or finding a place to live on very short notice. Even Bruce’s comments about his success this year are illuminating about the mental strain of the game.

As usual, great reporting by Buchanan. His full article is worth your time.