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

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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.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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I’m taking the day off to go down to Kentucky to watch horses do horsey things (watch for me photobombing equestrian types on NBC Sports Network). Bill will be along later today and Ashley will be here this evening, but I can’t leave you without the recaps because that’s what I do.

Don’t do anything dumb while your mother and I are out. We’ve marked all the bottles. We’ll know if you’re lying to us.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 5, Giants 1: It was 1-1 until the 11th inning thanks to Julio Urias, making his 2017 big league debut, and the Dodgers’ bullpen and Matt Moore and the Giants’ bullpen takin’ care of business. The Dodgers got tired of it being close in the top of the 11th, however, beating up on Corey Gearrin, Steven Okert and Hunter Strickland for four runs. Andrew Toles knocked in the go-ahead run with a single. A sac fly, single and a bases-loaded walk finished the scoring. The Giants wouldn’t have even scored the one run if it wasn’t for the Dodgers throwing the ball around.

Nationals 16, Rockies 5: The Nats came into Colorado and scored 46 runs in four games. Which, damn. They put up 11 runs in the seventh inning here, with Bryce Harper hitting a three-run shot. Trea Turner hit for the cycle on Tuesday, finished a triple shy of another cycle Wednesday and hit a double and two singles and driving in two here. Harper is hitting .418/.535/.823 with eight homers and 25 RBI. That’s a 59 homer, 184 RBI pace. I know Harper has a habit of putting up big Aprils and that injuries have derailed him in the past, but this is shaping up to be a really special year for this guy.

Cardinals 8, Blue Jays 4; Cardinals 6, Blue Jays 4: The first game of the twin-bill ended in spectacular fashion with Matt Carpenter hitting a walkoff grand slam in the 11th inning. They wouldn’t have even gotten to extras, however, if it wasn’t for Randal Grichuk‘s two-run homer with two outs in the ninth which tied it up. So much drama in game 1 it’s a shame they had to suit up for fame 2 rather than just go out for drinks. But they did play game 2 and it went swell for St. Louis. Dexter Fowler, Greg Garcia and Matt Adams each had three hits. Fowler hit a dinger. The Blue Jays are a total mess. But they’re not the only mess in the bigs right now because . . .

Braves 7, Mets 5: M-E-S-S Mess! Mess! Mess! Six losses in a row and 10 of 11. They’re not scoring. Everyone is getting hurt. Just a disaster. The last time the Mets were this screwed up was just after the All-Star break in 2015 and you know what happened then. Oh, wait, they won the pennant. Eh, let’s let the New York press and Mets fans freak out. Maybe it’s actually warranted this time. Who knows. All I know is that Kurt Suzuki hit a big three-run homer here and when the Braves make you look bad, you’re not living your best life.

Mariners 2, Tigers 1: Justin Verlander and Hisashi Iwakuma battled. Verlander battled a tad better — allowing only an unearned run in seven innings while striking out eight while Iwakuma allowed only one unearned run in five and two-thirds — but the Mariners got the win anyway. The go-ahead run came thanks to a Ben Gamel RBI single off of Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth. Can’t trust the Tigers bullpen in a close game. Ever.

Phillies 3, Marlins 2Jeremy Hellickson allowed one run over six innings as the Phillies win their sixth straight. Hellickson is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA on the year. Philly is doing OK right now, but if they aren’t in contention come July, he’s going to be a pretty attractive trade target.

Indians 4, Astros 3: Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Francisco Lindor hit a two-run bomb. And I mean bomb. The thing was estimated to be over 450 feet. Corey Kluber struck out ten over seven innings. In addition to being one of the best shortstops around, Lindor is hitting .301/.368/.614 on the year and he’s on a 40-homer pace. That $100 million deal he reportedly turned down is gonna look positively quaint.

Yankees 3, Red Sox 0: Masahiro Tanaka tosses a Maddux. You do know what a Maddux is, right? In case you forgot, it’s a complete game shutout in which the starter throws fewer than 100 pitches. Here it was a three-hitter in which he only allowed one runner to reach second base. Chris Sale was no slouch himself, striking out ten in eight innings. He’s pitched great this year but he’s not getting any help. They’ve only scored four runs in his five starts. Boston has scored  only 13 runs in their last seven games. They’ve been shut out three times in the past seven.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 2: Taijuan Walker struck out 11 and Chris Ownings hit a pair of solo homers. Yasmany Tomas had a two-run homer.

Angels 2, Athletics 1: I had a dream last night that I owed the Oakland A’s $30,000 in medical bills. Something in the dream made it make sense — baseball teams ran hospitals or something — and for whatever reason, my family had used theirs and I was responsible for the bills. My family, by the way, included Ronald Reagan, who was treated at A’s hospital. Insurance wouldn’t cover a lot of his bills because a man had come out of the woodwork claiming to have been his lover, and the insurance company had a right to discriminate based on sexual orientation. What I’m sayin’ is that a lot was going on in this dream and I’m a little upset with the A’s over it right now.

Oh, by the way, Ricky Nolasco allowed one runs in five and two-thirds and four relievers combined to shut the A’s out the rest of the way. The Angels scored both of their runs in the first.

I probably do need that day off, eh? See you Monday.

Masahiro Tanaka throws a Maddux

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You do know what a Maddux is, right? In case you forgot, it’s a complete game shutout in which the starter throws fewer than 100 pitches. Friend of HBT Jason Lukehart invented that little metric and, because Greg Maddux is my favorite player ever, it’s pretty much my favorite stat ever.

In the Yankees-Red Sox game tonight it was Masahiro Tanaka doing the honors, tossing 97-pitch three-hitter in which he only allowed one runner to reach second base to beat Boston 3-0. He only struck out three but he didn’t walk anyone. He retired the last 14 batters he faced.

Chris Sale was no slouch himself, striking out ten in eight innings. He’s pitched great this year but he’s not getting any help. The Sox have only scored four runs in his five starts. Boston has scored only 13 runs in their last seven games. They’ve been shut out three times in the past seven. They scored more runs than anyone last year, by the way.

The game only took two hours and twenty-one minutes. Or, like, half the time of a Yankees-Red Sox game in the early 2000s. Progress, people. We’re making progress.