MLB All-Star Game: Cano Homers Late to Lead AL to Fifth-Straight Win

MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: Robinson Cano
MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: Robinson Cano /

In the 88th MLB All-Star Game, pitching paved the way for an extra inning affair before Robinson Cano broke a 10th-inning tie.

This time, it doesn’t count. For the first time since 2002, the MLB All-Star Game was as it should be. This time, there was no “winner decides home field advantage in the World Series”, a rule put in place for the 2003 Mid-Summer Classic. Instead, it was an actual exhibition game held for exhibition purposes. Just the game’s absolute best taking the field to compete in a game to show off for the fans.

The American League lineup featured a big crop of new faces. Six of the 10 starters for the AL were making their All-Star game debuts. First baseman Justin Smoak, shortstop Carlos Correa, third baseman Jose Ramirez, outfielders Aaron Judge and George Springer, and designated hitter Corey Dickerson were all first-timers.

On the other side, the National League lineup was full of experience. Nine of the Senior Circuit’s 10 starters were voted All-Stars for at least the second time. Shortstop Zack Cozart was the only All-Star rookie in the starting lineup.

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Pitching ruled the game for both sides. In regulation, 16 pitchers combined to allow only two runs on 15 hits while striking out 21 batters. The lone runs in the first nine innings came on back-to-back doubles in the fifth inning and an opposite field home run in the sixth inning.

The American League struck first, with Baltimore Oriole Jonathan Schoop and Minnesota Twin Miguel Sano doing the damage. With two outs against Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Alex Wood, Schoop laced a double down the left field line before Miguel Sano blooped another one into the Bermuda Triangle between three defenders down the right field line.

Yadier Molina took care of the one-run deficit the next inning, driving Twins’ pitcher Ervin Santana‘s offering over the fence in right-center field to bring the score back to even. The pitching staffs settled back in, throwing zero after zero until the ninth inning.

With Craig Kimbrel on the mound in the bottom of the ninth, the National League had a chance. Molina led off by taking a four-pitch walk, and Jake Lamb took another walk two batters later. Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt gave Kimbrel’s 1-2 fastball a ride, but White Sock Avisail Garcia chased it down. Molina moved over to third, putting the pressure on Kimbrel and catcher Gary Sanchez, but Michael Conforto couldn’t come through with the big hit. Kimbrel struck him out to force extra innings.

Three pitches into the 10th inning, Robinson Cano broke the tie. Against the lone Chicago Cubs’ representative Wade Davis, Cano’s sweet swing drove a liner over the right field wall to give the AL a 2-1 lead. That was all they needed, as Cleveland Indian Andrew Miller worked around a two-out walk to hold the lead. The final pitch was a slider out of the zone, getting Cody Bellinger to chase and bring the first extra-inning All-Star Game since 2008 to a close.

Kimbrel was the winning pitcher for the AL’s fifth straight All-Star win, while Davis took the loss. Miller got the save. For his heroics in extra innings, Cano was named the Game’s MVP, becoming the third Seattle Mariner to garner the award. He joins Ken Griffey Jr. (1992)and Ichiro Suzuki (2007).

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The Bay Area teams both had one representative on Tuesday. The San Francisco Giants had Buster Posey, who was voted the starting catcher by a huge margin over Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras. Posey was behind the plate and hitting cleanup, and went 0-1 with a walk in his four innings during his fifth All-Star Game. From the other side of the Bay, Yonder Alonso took the field for the Oakland Athletics and made the most of his first All-Star appearance. After entering at first base in the sixth inning, Alonso picked up two singles and a stolen base in two at-bats. He was stranded at third in the top of the ninth after leading off with a single through the shift.