Balfour on Rivera: 'He's been great for the game'
Mariano Rivera was awarded the All-Star Game MVP Award for pitching a perfect eighth inning in the A.L.'s 3-0 win. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
NEW YORK -- It was 90 degrees at first pitch, which was at 8:19 p.m. ET, and really, the sweltering Big Apple's thermometers were hotter than the 84th All-Star game itself.
The American League beating the National League, 3-0, had an anticlimactic feel to it, even as the A.L. ended the N.L's three-game winning streak in the Midsummer Classic Tuesday night.
Consider: A.L. pitching had held N.L. bats to just two hits entering the ninth.
The only real drama? It came early. Matt Harvey, a Met, hit Robinson Cano, a Yankee, on the knee with a 96-mph heater. Oh, and Harvey is a Scott Boras client, while Cano used to be a Boras client until recently. Cano's new agent, Jay-Z, dissed Boras in rap. Get it?
There was a very cool moment in the eighth, though, when Yankees closer Mariano Rivera entered to the strains of "Enter Sandman," as if this was his house in Queens, rather than in the Bronx. No other All-Stars took the field with him immediately as he warmed up on his own after doffing his cap to a standing ovation from the stadium and players saluted him with claps of their own.
The retiring Rivera, in his 13th and final All-Star appearance, had a 1-2-3 inning, Jean Segura grounding out to second base, Allen Craig lining out to left field and Carlos Gomez bouncing out to shortstop.
From a Bay Area perspective, A's closer Grant Balfour got in the game (described in detail below) and Giants catcher Buster Posey, the reigning N.L. MVP got an at-bat (also explained below). But Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, managing the N.L. team, did not use his three other San Francisco All-Stars, second baseman Marco Scutaro, left-hander Madison Bumgarner and closer Sergio Romo.
Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale was the winning pitcher, Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin was the loser.
Rivera was named the game's MVP for his perfect eighth inning.
Starting pitching report
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey had an adventurous time, his first pitch of the game driven down the right-field line for a double by the Angels' Mike Trout. Harvey then hit the Yankees second baseman just above the right knee with a 96-mph fastball on his third pitch of the game. But Harvey would settle down…and then some. The gas-throwing Harvey struck out Miguel Carbrera, got Chris Davis to pop out to shallow center and K'd Jose Bautista to end the first inning. Then he got David Ortiz to fly out to center before striking out Adam Jones and then inducing a line out from Joe Mauer before leaving to a standing ovation from the home crowd. In all, Harvey threw 32 pitches, with 22 strikes. Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer, meanwhile, went just one inning, and got Brandon Phillips to fly out to left, Carlos Beltran to ground out to first and struck out Joey Votto, looking. Scherzer threw 12 pitches, eight strikes.
With the Rivera story taken care of above, let's keep it local, no? A's closer Grant Balfour entered the game in the sixth inning, and seemed a bit, well, too amped up. He walked Michael Cuddyer on four pitches, hitting 95 mph on the radar gun once, before settling in. Balfour then got Bryce Harper to pop out to short, Matt Carpenter to fly out to center and then Balfour struck out Andrew McCutchen to end the inning. Balfour, whose deliberate stalking style around the mound apparently confused the Fox broadcasters, threw 15 pitches, eight strikes. Then there was this, Texas closer Joe Nathan worked a scoreless ninth inning for the save.
At the plate
The American League scored its first run in the fourth inning. After Cabrera led off with a double, he went to third on Chris Davis' single off Joey Votto's glove. Jose Bautista's sacrifice fly ball to center was deep enough to score Cabrera. In the fifth, the A.L. took a 2-0 lead when Adam Jones, who led off with a double, was at third on Joe Mauer's single by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. J.J. Hardy's ground out then brought Jones home. And the junior circuit added a third run in the eighth, when Jason Kipnis hit a ground-rule double to left, scoring Salvador Perez, who had singled to lead off the inning. Posey, the lone Giants player to get in the game, struck out against Toronto's Steve Delabar in the seventh.
In the field
Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado showed off his range and cannon of an arm in the seventh. Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt hit a shot behind the third-base bag that Machado, the player's choice for the position after Miguel Cabrera won the fan vote, grabbed on a hop while falling toward the dugout. Throwing off balance, he got Goldschmidt by a step as the ball nestled into Prince Fielder's glove.
The Mets, who last played host to a Midsummer Classic in 1964 at Shea Stadium, which stood where a parking lot is now here at four-year-old CitiField, announced a sold-out crowd of 45,186, the largest crowd ever in the yard. And most of them seemed to be riding the 7 train in with me from Manhattan this afternoon. And no, I did not see John Rocker on the subway.
Tweet o' da game
99 problems and a hit by pitch is one? -- @GregYoungJr, in response to my Tweet about Robinson Cano's new agent, Jay-Z, feeling the pain of his client after Cano was drilled by the Harvey heater.
Next year's All-Star Game goes back to the American League, with the Midsummer Classic at Minnesota's Target Field on July 15, 2014. After that, it is in an N.L. city, Cincinnati, in 2015. That is as far as the games are planned out at the moment, though it is thought Baltimore and Washington want in…and soon.