The American League, on the strength of back-to-back home runs by Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton, continued its All-Star Game dominance on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. The AL won the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, 3-2, to make it nine consecutive wins over the National League in the Midsummer Classic.
Stanton, who was named All-Star Game MVP, hit a 457-foot, two-run homer off Dodgers righty Tony Gonsolin in the fourth inning. Buxton, the next batter, followed with a 425-foot blast of his own to give the AL a one-run lead that the team would not relinquish.
The National League got off to a strong start. Dodgers legend Clayton Kershaw got the start in front of his home crowd and pitched a scoreless first inning (which featured a pick-off of Shohei Ohtani). The NL got two runs in the bottom of the first, thanks to an RBI single from Mookie Betts and a solo homer from Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The NL had four hits off of AL starter Shane McClanahan, but had just one knock in the final eight innings.
Now for some takeaways from the 2022 All-Star Game.
AL winning streak up to nine
The American League's All-Star Game winning streak is up to nine. The so-called Junior Circuit is also 21-4 in the last 25 All-Star Games. That said, the National League dominated the All-Star Game so much in the 1960s and 1970s that the AL only has a slim 47-43-2 edge in the all-time series despite its recent dominance. The AL will look to extend its All-Star Game winning streak to 10 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle next year.
Stanton and Buxton made history
Thanks to Goldschmidt's first-inning homer, the NL held a 2-0 lead going into the fourth inning. However, things changed quickly thanks to Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees and Byron Buxton of the Twins.
With one out and one on, Tony Gonsolin of the host Dodgers presented Stanton with an 0-2 splitter. Stanton, who joined Mariano Rivera (2013) and Derek Jeter (2000) as Yankees to win All-Star Game MVP honors, found it to his liking:
That's a 457-foot crush-job that reached the vicinity of the seats where Stanton used to sit when he'd visit Dodger Stadium as a kid. It also left the bat at 111.7 mph, which, according to Sarah Langs, is the highest Statcast exit velocity ever registered in the All-Star Game.
That tied the game, and Buxton, the very next batter, gave the AL the 3-2 lead with this blast off a 2-1 fastball above the zone:
And we say above the zone, we mean that emphatically:
In tandem, those two circuit clouts made for the first back-to-back homers in an All-Star Game since Alex Bregman and George Springer of the Astros pulled it off in 2018 and seventh overall. Consider the importance of the Stanton-Buxton combo, though, and it's unprecedented, at least insofar as the Midsummer Classic is concerned:
Not coincidentally, Stanton and Buxton combined for 47 homers in the first half of this season.
Kershaw picked off Ohtani
In an in-field interview prior to his first at-bat, Shohei Ohtani said he planned to swing at the first pitch, and swing at the first pitch he did. He sent Clayton Kershaw's first offering back up the middle for a lead-off single. Ohtani is only the third player to get a hit on the first pitch of the All-Star Game, joining his Angels teammate Mike Trout (2013) and Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett (1986).
Ohtani's stint on the bases didn't last long though. A few pitches after giving up the single, Kershaw picked Ohtani off first base. Check it out:
A pickoff throw in an All-Star Game? Come on man. That's not as bad as shifting the infield in the All-Star Game, but come on. Anyway, that's the first All-Star Game pickoff since Carlos Zambrano picked off Milton Bradley in 2008.
Ohtani went 1 for 1 with a walk in the All-Star Game. Alas and alack, he did not pitch. Kershaw pitched around the Ohtani single and a Rafael Devers walk in his scoreless inning of work. But a pickoff throw in the All-Star Game? Really? That's a fine in kangaroo court.
Nestor Cortes went 'rogue'
The Yankees had two unlikely All-Stars this year in catcher Jose Trevino and lefty Nestor Cortes. Trevino came over from the Rangers in a minor trade near the end of spring training, and Cortes rejoined the Yankees on a minor-league contract last year.
In the sixth inning they teamed up as the American League's battery, and they were mic'd up on the broadcast. We got to hear them joke around and talk through pitch selection. It was neat. And we got to hear Cortes gives a heads up that one of his trademark funky deliveries was coming:
"I'm probably going to go completely rogue on that. You'll probably see some cool stuff out there," Cortes told NJ.com earlier this week. I wouldn't say one funky delivery qualifies as rogue -- Cortes does that once or twice a start with the Yankees -- but it's certainly different, and different is fun. Cortes and Trevino being mic'd up was a good half-inning of television.
We didn't get to see the new tiebreaker format
Earlier this week, MLB announced that All-Star Game ties would be decided not by extra innings, as has been the practice in the past,. In the event of a tie score after nine innings, each team would select three batters, and each of them would get three swings. After all six players have had a chance to bat through three rounds, the team with the highest total will be declared the winner.
Needless to say, this new wrinkle was met with enthusiasm from fans, and many of us were no doubt hoping for a tie on Tuesday night. That didn't quite happen, though, as the AL preserved their one-run lead over the final five-and-a-half innings.
In the eighth, the NL managed its first hit since the first inning – an Austin Riley single to right off Clay Holmes to lead off the frame – but Holmes recouped to get the next two outs, and Liam Hendriks then came on to strand the potential tying run. In the ninth, Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase struck out the side for the save.
Had we managed a tie, then Ty France, Julio Rodríguez, and Kyle Tucker would've swung for the AL, while Pete Alonso, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Kyle Schwarber would've gone for the NL in the mini-Derby. Advantage NL, given that they'd have trotted out three actual Home Run Derby participants? Alas, we'll never know.
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