2018 All-Star Game: American League wins home run extravaganza

Getty Images
22 Comments

The 2018 All-Star Game was a reflection of its time. It was full of homers and devoid of most other action. In the end, though, it was a baseball game, and when the dust settled the American League prevailed 8-6, taking its sixth Midsummer Classic in a row and taking the all-time All-Star Game lead, 44-43-2 against the Senior circuit.

Every run save one scored on a homer. Ten were hit, in fact, shattering an All-Star Game record set back in 1971, when six were hit. The men going deep in this one: Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Willson Contreras, Trevor Story, Jean Segura, Christian Yellich, Scooter Gennett, Alex Bregman, George Springer and Joey Votto. All were solo shots except for Segura’s and Gennett’s, with the former being three-run shot off of Josh Hader in the eighth and Gennett’s a two-run shot off of Edwin Diaz which sent things into extra innings.

The American League struck back quickly in the 10th, however, with Alex Bregman and George Springer hitting solo shots to lead off the inning. They were both hit off of Ross Stipling, pitching in his second inning, under the supervision of his own manager, Dave Roberts. One wonders how much of Roberts’ decision to keep Stripling in was a function of him not wanting to anger his fellow NL managers by using their pitchers’ arms in an extra inning contest. No one wants a pitcher overworked, but Roberts sticking with his own guy is something that would be worth questioning if someone cared enough to question strategy in an All-Star Game.

The American league scored a final run off of Stripling, this off of a Michael Brantley sac fly following a couple of singles. Who knew you could score by means other than the long ball?

In the bottom of the tenth the American League sent J.A. Happ to the mound to save it. Joey Votto led things off with a first pitch homer to right field to bring the Nationals to within two. That was all they’d get, however, as Happ retired Yelich, Charlie Blackmon and Lorenzo Cain to close it out.

Alex Bregman won the All-Star Game Ted Williams MVP Award, by virtue of his homer being the one that put the A.L. ahead for good. It would’ve been Segura’s for that three-run dinger if it had ended up being decisive, but those are the breaks in the All-Star Game. Bregman had a choice of a Chevy Truck or a Camaro for the All-Star Game prize. He picked the Camaro and said he’d give it to his mom. I sorta wanna meet Bregman’s mom now. That’s probably another blog post.

In any event, eleven runs were scored after the seventh inning. Some of the best drama of the night involved a transaction, not game action. It was a weird night of baseball, frankly, but if you dig the longball, it was right up your alley.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.