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NL has triple the fun with third straight win, 8-0
A five-run first inning against Tigers ace Justin Verlander powered the National League to its third consecutive All-Star Game victory, 8-0.
Seattle Times baseball reporter
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Maybe the American League misses Ichiro's infamous pregame speech, in which he leapt out of a locker each year for a decade and gave an obscenity-laden pep talk.
Maybe in honor of being at Kauffman Stadium, the home team decided to turn in a performance Royals fans could relate to.
Or maybe Rangers manager Ron Washington is just destined to keep losing meaningful games to the National League.
On a night of clown shoes and Cano boos, the National League routed the American League, 8-0, for their third consecutive All-Star victory after 12 straight losses.
After Prince Fielder dominated the Home Run Derby on Monday, this one turned into a Triples Derby — and if you had Pablo Sandoval in the three-bagger pool, pick up your reward.
Sandoval was the Kung Fu Panda express as he raced around the bases in the first, his bases-loaded triple off American League starter Justin Verlander the start of his, and the AL's, demise.
The Tigers ace, despite (or perhaps because of) hitting 100 mph with regularity, turned in one of the worst All-Star pitching performances in history, giving up five runs in his inning.
The only others to give up five or more runs in one inning or less were Atlee Hammaker in 1983, and Sandy in 1954. No, not Sandy Koufax. Sandy Consuegra.
"That's why I don't try to throw 100 all the time; it usually doesn't work out too well for me," Verlander said. "I know this game is important, that it's for home-field (World Series) advantage, but it's for the fans. They don't want to see me throw 90 and paint corners; they want to see a 100 mph fastball. I gave 'em that!"
What the fans had wanted to see on Monday was Billy Butler of the Royals in the Home Run Derby, and when AL captain Robinson Cano didn't pick him, the KC populace made him Public Enemy No. 1. Cano continued to be booed at every turn on Tuesday, and a couple of planes even circled the stadium before the game towing anti-Cano banners.
Butler finally appeared as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, and the sustained ovation he received — matching the one during pregame introductions — was one of several nice touches that helped partially salvage a blowout.
Like the B2 stealth bomber flyover. Like former umpire Steve Palermo, partially paralyzed when shot while breaking up an altercation in 1991, accompanying the six game umps as they entered the field, walking resolutely with the aid of a cane. Like Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson's daughter, sitting in the Buck O'Neil seat, reserved each game for a local hero. Like George Brett, the greatest KC player of them all, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch — to Butler.
"The fan support was amazing. That's the most I've been cheered my whole life," Butler said. "I was kind of embarrassed, actually."
You want nice touches amid the wreckage? How about the same game that introduced 19-year-old Bryce Harper and 20-year-old Mike Trout to the world, serving as the game that marked the All-Star farewell of 40-year-old Chipper Jones?
It was reminiscent of Cal Ripken's All-Star farewell at Safeco in 2001, when many people were convinced that Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park grooved the pitch that Ripken hit for his valedictory home run. (Of course, some conspiracy theorists also are sure that Park put a banana peel in the third-base coaching box for Tommy Lasorda).
At any rate, Jones hit a slow grounder to the right side that somehow eluded second baseman Ian Kinsler and skipped into right field. Safe travels, Larry.
"I don't think you could even draw it up. I know how much respect everyone in the game has for him," said Joey Votto of Atlanta's Jones. "Everyone watching all around the world got to see a smile, and how much he loves the game."
They also got to see some of the most garish footwear imaginable — at least outside an NBA game. Many players wore orange shoes, and a handful — including Harper — were in shimmering gold. Hopefully, it's a one-game trend, and players can return to stately black on Friday (oh, yeah: and get off my lawn!).
Harper walked, tagged up on a long fly, then got thrown out ill-advisedly trying to break for third on a comebacker — the whole aggressive, slightly reckless package in a thumbnail sketch.
And Trout had two of the most disparate at-bats imaginable, singling against the fluttering knuckleball of R.A. Dickey, then walking against Aroldis Chapman and his triple-digit heater. He showed off his blazing speed by easily stealing second off Dickey, then got a straight-on view of Dickey's nastiness from second base.
"He was throwing crazy ones to (Mark) Trumbo," Trout laughed. "I was watching the show. Them balls were sinking, rising, dancing."
Oh, yeah — it turns out San Francisco's fans, much maligned for stuffing the ballot box to make Sandoval and Melky Cabrera starters, got it right. After Sandoval got the NL started in the right direction (Ryan Braun and Rafael Furcal would add triples), Cabrera capped it with a two-run homer off Matt Harrison in the fourth.
Coupled with a single in the first, it earned Cabrera the game's MVP award. And made a winner of Tony La Russa in his one-game cameo appearance before returning to the retired life.
"It didn't feel weird," Cardinals first baseman David Freese said of having his old skipper back. "It felt right."
And for Washington, it felt all too familiar.
"I'll keep coming back here 20 years if I can," he said.
By that time, Trout and Harper might be making their farewells.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Pitchers allowing five or more runs in an All-Star Game:|
|Blue Moon Odom||1969||Athletics||5|
|Sandy Consuegra||1954||White Sox||5|
|Source: STATS LLC|