Baseball’s Midsummer Classic

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^The Major League Baseball All-Star Game matches up the best players of the American and National leagues each year at roughly the midpoint in the season. In this photo, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, prior to the start of the 2014 All-Star Game. Credit: Master Sgt. Stan Parker, U.S. Air Force

On Tuesday night, July 11, the American League (AL) edged the National League (NL) 2-1 to win the Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. It was the fifth consecutive win for the AL, which took the game with a 10th inning home run by Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Canó. The All-Star Game features the best MLB players as a midseason interleague exhibition. Canó, an eight-time All-Star and native of the Dominican Republic, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

As is often the case, pitching dominated the Midsummer Classic. Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer opened the game for the NL with a scoreless first, and AL starter Chris Sale did the same. Sale, who also shut down the NL in the second, made his second-straight start for the AL. The last pitcher to repeat as AL All-Star starter was Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1983 and 1984. Sale, who plays for the Boston Red Sox, became the first pitcher with back-to-back starts with different teams (he pitched last year for the Chicago White Sox).

The revolving door then set in on the pitcher’s mound as each team ran out a new arm nearly every inning (the St. Louis Cardinals’Carlos Martínez was the only pitcher besides Sale to throw two frames). The AL pushed a run across in the 5th, and the NL answered with a run in the 6th. The 9th inning ended with the score tied 1-1, but fears of a lengthy extra-inning game were quickly erased by Canó’s blast to right field off Chicago Cubs pitcher Wade Davis. Cleveland Indians pitcher Andrew Miller blanked the NL in the bottom of the 10th to clinch the AL victory.

The AL squad was led by Indians bench coach Brad Mills, who filled in for ailing manager Terry Francona. Francona underwent a heart procedure the week before the game and was unable to manage the AL All-Stars–his right by leading his Indians to the AL pennant in 2016. Joe Maddon, manager of the NL and World Series champion Cubs, led the National Leaguers. Pregame ceremonies, always elaborate at All-Star Games, celebrated Miami’s Hispanic community by honoring Latin American-born MLB Hall of Famers.

For the first time since 2002, the All-Star Game did not determine which league would have home field advantage in the World Series. Instead, home field advantage in the World Series returned to its previous annual rotation of alternating between league champions. This year’s AL victory evened the all-time series between the leagues. Since the first All-Star Game in 1933, the AL and NL squads have each won 43 times (along with 2 ties). Each league has also scored the same number of runs in All-Star play (361). There was no All-Star Game in 1945 because of World War II travel restrictions, and from 1959 through 1962, there were two All-Star games each year.

In other All-Star festivities, New York Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge outpaced hometown Marlins’ favorites Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour to win the Home Run Derby on Monday night. On Sunday afternoon, the best of Minor League Baseball squared off in the All-Star Futures Game. The United States future stars downed the World Team, 7-6.

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