The American League wins the 2013 All-Star Game 3-0

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source:  Another Midsummer Classic in the bag. Another scoresheet which looks like a train wreck, but that’s how the All-Star Game rolls. And the American League rolled to victory here at Citi Field, beating the National League 3 to 0.

As with most All-Star Games it was the small moments which were the most memorable. Here we had the Mets’ Matt Harvey, pitching in his home park, obviously carrying some extra adrenaline early. His velocity was high but his first couple of pitches shaky as he gave up a leadoff double to Mike Trout and then hit Robinson Cano on the right leg. Cano had to leave the game after taking first base and, thankfully, X-Rays came back negative — he has a contusion — but you don’t want to see that happen in an exhibition. Harvey calmed down after that and retired six in a row. A nice outing for the kid.

Beyond that, not many fireworks, as pitching and defense came to the fore.

The game remained scoreless until the top of the fourth when Miguel Cabrera doubled off Patrick Corbin, advanced to third on a Chris Davis single and scored on a Jose Bautista sac fly. The American League added another run in similar fashion in the fifth, this time with an Adam Jones double off Cliff Lee, a Joe Mauer single and a J.J. Hardy fielder’s choice. Not the most exciting way to score, but it was mixed in with a fan wearing a Robinson Cano shirsey running onto the field — he telegraphed it, quite stupidly, via his Twitter feed — and that’s kinda fun. Except for the fan, of course, who was slammed to the ground.

More zeros after that with Matt Moore, Jose Fernandez, Grant Balfour and Aroldis Chapman putting up zeroes through the the bottom of the fifth, all through the sixth and into the seventh-inning stretch. Then in the bottom of the seventh Jim Leyland decided to get some more relievers in the game, going through Greg Holland, Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar. They combined for yet another zero, aided by a slicker than slick play by Manny Machado on a hard Paul Goldschmidt ball to third. Machado looked like Brooks Robinson.

source:  The AL added an insurance run in the eighth off of Craig Kimbrel. The sequence: a Salvador Perez single, Jhonny Peralta single and then, after Torii Hunter grounded into a double play, Jason Kipnis doubled to left scoring Perez. That set the stage for Mariano Rivera, who came in an inning earlier than expected, covering the bottom of the eighth. He entered to a nice tribute from the assembled All-Stars — they left the field empty for him as he took the mound, giving him a standing ovation — and ended it by retiring the National League in order, throwing 16 cutters, in his final All-Star appearance.

Everyone involved was getting punchy by the top of the ninth inning, but Prince Fielder woke us up with a leadoff triple of Jason Grilli. Prince Fielder. The big man. And he moved like nobody’s business, letting out a yell as he slid head-first into the third base bag. I love to watch that guy run. He must have been tired, though, as he remained stranded on third despite a couple of infield outs that may have scored a less tired man.

Joe Nathan came on in the ninth, struck out the first two batters he faced before surrendering a double to Goldschmidt. Nathan bore down, however, and induced a pop fly by Pedro Alvarez to end the ballgame.

Chris Sale got the win, Corbin got the loss, Nathan got the save and the American League has home field advantage in the 2013 World Series. Mo Rivera was named MVP and awarded a new Corvette.

This Day in Transaction History: Phillies acquire John Kruk from Padres

John Kruk
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John Kruk is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball history. Kruk, who is currently a broadcaster for the Phillies, had a 10-year career during which he hit exactly 100 homers, batted exactly .300, and posted an excellent .397 on-base percentage. In baseball history, there are only 32 members of the admittedly arbitrary 100/.300/.395+ club. Kruk is one of only 10 members of the club that played after 1963. The others: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramírez, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, and Wade Boggs. Of them, five are Hall of Famers. Trout and Votto will be, and Helton and Ramírez should be.

On this day in 1989, the Phillies made a franchise-altering trade, acquiring Kruk along with infielder Randy Ready from the Padres in exchange for outfielder Chris James. The Padres had just swept the Phillies at home and were hoping to jump into the playoff race. They immediately went into a losing skid, but caught fire at the end of the season, finishing 89-73. However, that wasn’t good enough as the Giants won the NL West with a 92-70 record. James was solid for the Padres, posting a .743 OPS with 11 homers and 46 RBI in 87 games.

Kruk had an interesting but brief major league career with the Padres. His roommate, Roy Plummer, was an armed robber. Kruk was completely unaware of this. In spring training of 1988, the FBI informed Kruk of his roommates’ activities. Kruk feared retribution from Plummer and said that the anxiety affected his baseball performance. In 1988, Kruk batted what was for him a poor .241/.369/.362 with nine homers and 44 RBI over 466 plate appearances.

The Phillies didn’t enjoy immediate success upon Kruk’s arrival in 1989. The club finished the season with a losing record and would do the same in the ensuing three seasons. None of it was Kruk’s fault, though: in aggregate, from 1990-92, he hit .303/.393/.459, earning two All-Star nominations. In this span of time, the only other first basemen to hit above .300 were Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor, Hal Morris, and Rafael Palmeiro. The Padres had used Kruk both in the corner outfield and at first base, but the Phillies made him a full-time first baseman, which turned out to be a good move.

In 1993, everything came together for the Phillies and Kruk had what was arguably the greatest season of his career. He hit .316, which was actually seven points below his average the previous year, but he drew 111 walks to push his on-base percentage up to .430. Kruk hit third in the lineup, creating plenty of RBI opportunities for Dave Hollins in the clean-up spot, Darren Daulton at No. 5, and the trio of Jim Eisenreich, Pete Incaviglia, and Wes Chamberlain in the No. 6 spot. The Phillies shocked the world in ’93, winning the NL East by three games over the Expos with a 97-65 record. They then dispatched the Braves in six games in the NLCS to advance to the World Series against the Blue Jays.

Kruk was productive in the NLCS, contributing six hits including a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, four walks, five RBI, and four runs scored. But he turned things up a notch in the World Series, registering multi-hit performances in the first three games. He would finish the World Series with eight hits in 23 at-bats along with seven walks, four RBI, and four runs scored. The World Series was winnable for the Phillies as they lost a barnburner Game 4 15-14, and of course, dropped the deciding Game 6 on a World Series-clinching walk-off three-run home run by Joe Carter off of Mitch Williams.

1994 was tough on Kruk in many ways. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in spring training. Knee issues continued to bother him, and then Major League Baseball had a work stoppage. In an abbreviated season, Kruk hit a still-productive .823 OPS. He became a free agent and, when baseball came back, he signed with the White Sox. In the first inning of a July 30 game against the Orioles in ’95, Kruk singled to left field off of Scott Erickson. He reached first base, bowed to the fans, and walked off the field into retirement. Kruk told the media, “The desire to compete at this level is gone. When that happens, it’s time to go.”

Kruk has spent his post-playing days working in sports media as both a broadcaster (Phillies, ESPN nationally) and as a commentator (The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Baseball Tonight). The Phillies inducted him into their Wall of Fame in August 2011. One wonders if Kruk hadn’t been bit by the injury bug, and if there hadn’t been a work stoppage, if he might have been able to accrue some more numbers to have a borderline Hall of Fame case. Regardless, he’ll go down as one of the games’ quietly great hitters.