What to take away from the All-Star Game other than the American League’s 6-3 win and thus home field advantage for this year’s World Series? The Mike Trout Show?
* Trout (Angels) became the first player in 38 years to lead off an All-Star Game going deep, hitting Zack Greinke’s (Dodgers) fourth pitch the other way, into the right field seats next to the Great American Ballpark visitors’ bullpen. Add scoring ahead of a powerful throw by Joc Pedersen (Dodgers) on Prince Fielder’s (Rangers) single in the fifth, and Trout—who’d reached base in the first place by beating out what might have been a double play finisher—joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Gary Carter as baseball’s only two-time All-Star Game MVPs.
Pitching to Trout, Greinke admitted after the Game, is anything but easy. (Perspective: Greinke got the All-Star start for the National League off five scoreless outings and not having allowed a run since 13 June.) “You’ve got like a two-inch window up in the zone,” he said. “If you throw it higher than that, he takes it. If you throw it lower, he does what he did.”
* Trout also became the ninth player to hit for a cycle over his All-Star career. He joined six Hall of Famers in doing so: Mays, Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, and Ted Williams. Fielder later became the tenth such player—doing it in the same game.
Now, here’s the wild part: When Trout’s leadoff homer cleared the fence, he’d made his cycle entirely on first-inning hits . . . and he did it exactly in order of base acquisition: 2012 Game—single. 2013 Game—double. 2013 Game—triple. Tuesday night—bomb. You might care to note that nobody else in All-Star history has three extra-base hits of any kind in an All-Star first inning.
* The last All-Star to open a Game with a bomb: Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, in 1977, off Jim Palmer, in old Yankee Stadium.
* Jacob deGrom (Mets) relieved Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) for the sixth and struck out Stephen Vogt (Athletics), Jason Kipnis (Indians), and Jose Iglesias (Tigers) on ten pitches in the sixth. He’s one of five Mets to strike out three in an inning in an All-Star Game, the first since Sid Fernandez in 1986, and joins Dwight Gooden (1984), Tug McGraw (1972), and Tom Seaver (1968).
* The American League has a whopping 21-6-1 advantage over the National League in the last 28 All-Star Games, but the National League leads the shebang lifetime with 43-41-2.
* The National League’s scoring in the Game came on an RBI single (Jhonny Peralta [Cardinals] in the second), a home run (Andrew McCutchen [Pirates] in the sixth), and a sacrifice fly (Brandon Crawford [Giants] in the ninth).
* The rest of the American League scoring: Lorenzo Cain (Royals) followed Fielder’s RBI single with an RBI double to score Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols (Angels), also off Kershaw, giving the American League a 3-1 lead and eventually hanging Kershaw with the loss. Manny Machado (Orioles) banged one off the right center field fence in the seventh to score Brock Holt (Red Sox, pinch running for Trout following a leadoff walk) off Francisco Rodriguez (Brewers); Brian Dozier (Twins)—the last man added as an injury replacement—flattened Mark Melancon (Pirates) for a solo homer after Melancon opened the inning with back to back strikeouts of Brett Gardner (Yankees) and Russell Martin (Blue Jays).
* How about those Royals otherwise? Salvador Perez, starting American League catcher—0 for 2 with two strikeouts including against World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner (Giants). Alcides Escobar—1 for 2 with a single (off Kershaw). Mike Moustakas, pinch hitting for Machado in the ninth—strikeout. Wade Davis—pitched a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts though he had to shake off a one-out single and prompt stolen base from Justin Upton (Padres) along the way. AL manager Ned Yost added Davis and his H-D-H bullpen partner Kelvim Herrera to the squad, meaning the Royals sent six men to the Game though Herrera didn’t see action.
* They’re still trying to figure out what NL manager Bruce Bochy was thinking when he held lefties Kershaw and Bumgarner until the middle innings—while the AL still had all its righthanded hitters in the game. The good news: Bumgarner got out of his inning alive. The bad news: Kershaw didn’t.
* David Price (Tigers) got the win for the AL but he seemed to spend much of his evening watching Trout. “I just sit there and laugh when he goes out there and does what he does,” Price cracked after the Game. “I’ll shoot him a text. And I’ll be like, ‘Hey, you do know that this is the highest league? There’s not a higher league, in case you’re bored right now.’ But he has to keep playing with us, keep playing with us common guys.”
The common guys Tuesday night included the defending National League Cy Young Award winner, five MVPs, the defending World Series MVP, five Rookies of the Year including the National League’s defender, three League Championship Series MVPs, and another All-Star MVP.
In case you haven’t had enough of Trout just yet, ponder if you will that in four All-Star Games Trout now has as many All-Star hits as Schmidt, Mel Ott, David Ortiz, and Andre Dawson, and as many hits as have Craig Biggio, Don Mattingly, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, and Frank Thomas . . . combined. Trout’s All-Star jacket has him hitting .500—5 for 10 with three steaks and three runs scored.
“What did you expect him to do?” Price asked of Trout’s leadoff bomb. “I’m surprised he didn’t hit a leadoff grand slam with nobody on base, if that’s even possible. If that can happen, he’d have been the guy to do it.” David Price is obviously a perceptive man.