Tuesday night at Coors Field, the American League continued its All-Star Game dominance with its eighth consecutive win over the National League in the Midsummer Classic (AL 5, NL 2). The AL has won every All-Star Game since 2013 and holds a 46-43-2 edge all-time.
All eyes were on Angels star Shohei Ohtani, and he had a fairly quiet night. As the AL's starting pitcher, he tossed a perfect first inning. As the AL's starting DH, Ohtani went 0 for 2. Blue Jays wunderkind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. slugged a 468-foot home run deep into the Coors Field bleachers for the game's loudest moment and was named the game's MVP.
The NL had several chances to get back into the game. The squad loaded the bases against Athletics righty Chris Bassitt in the sixth inning and against Red Sox righty Matt Barnes in the eighth, but could only muster one run on a Mike Zunino passed ball. Kris Bryant stranded five runners in two at-bats.
Here are six takeaways from the 2021 MLB All-Star Game:
1. Ohtani has quiet, victorious night
Tuesday night, Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani became the first ever player to start the All-Star Game on the mound and at DH. He was the first player to pitch and take an at-bat in the All-Star Game since the late Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in 2009.
All things considered, it was a quiet night for the greatest Sho in baseball. Ohtani threw a 1-2-3 first inning and went 0 for 2 with two groundouts at the plate. Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier robbed Ohtani of a hit with a nice play to begin the game.
Ohtani threw the All-Star Game's fastest pitch at 100.2 mph, and it was his fastest pitch since his first start of the regular season.
The American League took the lead in the top of the second inning and never gave it up, so Ohtani picked up the All-Star Game win. At least he walked away with that after all he's done the last few days (Home Run Derby, pitch and hit in the All-Star Game, nonstop interviews, etc.).
Shohei Ohtani is the first player in the modern era to start at pitcher, start in the leadoff spot and earn the win all in the same game (regular season, postseason or All-Star).— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) July 14, 2021
, though he pushed Nationals slugger Juan Soto to two dramatic tiebreakers.
2. Vlad Jr. goes deep, wins MVP
At 22 years and 119 days, Blue Jays wunderkind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. became the second youngest player in All-Star Game history to hit a home run Tuesday night. He socked a 468-foot homer against Brewers righty Corbin Burnes. It is the longest All-Star Game home run in the Statcast era (2015 to present).
The only player younger than Vlad Jr. to go deep in the All-Star Game is Hall of Famer Johnny Bench. Bench went deep in the 1969 All-Star Game at 21 years and 228 days. Bench, Guerrero, Hank Blalock, Ken Griffey Jr., Joe Medwick, Alex Rodriguez, and Ted Williams are the only players to hit an All-Star Game home run at 22 or younger.
Also, the Guerreros (Vladimir Sr. and Vladimir Jr.) are only the third father-son combo to go deep in the All-Star Game, joining Bobby and Barry Bonds, and Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. Vlad Sr. took Brad Penny deep in the 2006 All-Star Game.
Vlad Jr. went 1 for 3 with two runs in Tuesday night, which earned him All-Star Game MVP honors. He's the first Blue Jays player ever to win the award and the youngest player to take the honor.
3. Red Sox players had a good night
The Red Sox sent an MLB-leading five players to the All-Star Game and they had an excellent night collectively. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and JD Martinez went a combined 3 for 7 with a double and a run driven in at the plate, and Nathan Eovaldi threw a scoreless fourth inning.
Boston closer Matt Barnes pitched himself into and out of trouble in the eighth. He loaded the bases and brought the go-ahead run to the plate, but got Kris Bryant to line out to left field to escape the jam and protect the lead (more on that in a second). In the end, it was a scoreless inning.
4. Two catchers went yard
For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, a catcher from each league went deep in the All-Star Game. Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto and Rays backstop Mike Zunino each hit a solo home run, and both were opposite field shots.
Prior to Realmuto and Zunino on Tuesday, the last time each league had a catcher hit a home run in the All-Star Game was 1997, when Sandy Alomar (Cleveland) and Javy Lopez (Braves) did the deed.
Realmuto's home run was the first All-Star Game homer by a Phillies player since Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt in 1981, if you can believe that.
5. Walsh made a game-saving play
If he weren't playing on the same team as two legends, Angels slugger Jared Walsh would be getting much more attention for becoming one of the game's best hitters. The former 39th-round draft pick is a natural first baseman but he found himself in left field in the All-Star Game, a position he never before played at the MLB level, and he made a nice sliding catch to steal a hit from Bryant in the eighth inning.
Gosh, if that ball gets by Walsh, we're looking a go-ahead inside-the-park grand slam and one of the coolest moments in All-Star Game history. Maybe a natural outfielder makes a more routine-looking catch and no one really notices, maybe not. It's an All-Star Game though, an exhibition, and a first baseman making a sliding catch in left made for an exciting moment.
6. The AL continued its All-Star dominance
The American League's winning streak is up to eight consecutive All-Star Games. The National League last won the All-Star Game in 2012, when they shut the so-called Junior Circuit out 8-0 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The AL has won 19 of the last 23 All-Star Games, though their edge in the all-time series is pretty small at 46-43-2. The runs scored edge is 378-372.
Speaking of NL losing streaks, the Dodgers' Dave Roberts has now been the losing manager in three straight All-Star Games -- 2018, 2019, and now 2021. Had there been a 2020 All-Star Game, Dave Martinez of the Nationals would've been the manager of the NL squad, and that would've ended Roberts' streak. Things as they are, though, and he now owns the second-longest managerial losing streak in All-Star Game history. The unenviable record belongs to Casey Stengel, who lost four straight Midsummer Classics as manager of the AL from 1950 through 1953. Stengel also holds the record for most career All-Star Game losses as manager with six.