All-Star Game Recap

For the first time since the first Midsummer Classic in 1933, today's All-Star game meant something more than just bragging rights – home field advantage in the World Series. Fans watched as the best of the best went face-to-face. And in the end, it was Garret Anderson of the Anaheim Angels who led the charge with three hits and Hank Blalock of the Texas Rangers providing the final blow – a two run shot in the eighth - as the AL went on to win the 74th annual All-Star game.

July 15, 2003 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
National 0 0 0 0 5 0 1 0 0 6 11 1
American 0 0 1 0 0 2 1 3 x 7 9 0

WP B. Donnelly (1-0) 1IP 0H 0R 0ER 0BB 1SO 0HR 0.00 ERA
LP E. Gagne (0-1; B, 1) 1IP 3H 3R 3ER 0BB 1SO 1HR 27.00 ERA
S K. Foulke (1) 1IP 0H 0R 00R 0BB 0SO 0HR 0.00 ERA

The two starters for today's game were Chicago White Sox flamethrower Esteban Loaiza and San Francisco's Jason Schmidt. Loaiza allowed only one hit and struck out one in two innings of work.

Schmidt's outing was just a bit more eventful. After a quick five-pitch first, Schmidt came back and struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the second. On an 0-2 pitch to Edgar Martinez, Schmidt let a mid-90s fastball slip out of his hand and straight to the head of the batter. As the crack of the impact echoed throughout the ballpark, fans held their breaths as Martinez lay momentarily on the floor before popping back up, unharmed. His helmet wasn't as lucky though; upon the collision, it suffered a slight crack. After the hit batsman, Hideki Matsui blooped a single just out of the reach of starting shortstop Edgar Renteria. However, Schmidt came back to strike out Troy Glaus. Schmidt became the first pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1999 to strike out the side.

The American League busted out for a run in the bottom of the third against the Philadelphia Phillies' Randy Wolf. After Jorge Posada struck out, Ichiro walked and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, the AL's leading RBI man, Carlos Delgado, came up to bat, and he delivered. Delgado hit a clean single to the opposite field, easily scoring Ichiro, giving the AL a 1-0 advantage.

For a while, that seemed like that would be all the runs scored for the night. The pitching was absolutely lights out. Things didn't seem to look any better when Shigetoshi Hasegawa with his 0.77 ERA came in to pitch the fifth. The National League bats suddenly awoke and it was a rude awakening for Hasegawa.

After throwing a first pitch strike, Hasegawa threw four straight balls to Gary Sheffield. He then hung one in the middle of the plate, belt high to Todd Helton. Helton then did what he already did 21 times this season – blast one way out. Scott Rolen then singled. Javy Lopez flew out, and then Jose Vidro struck out, but the inning was far from over. Rafael Furcal, pinch hitting for Renteria, singled. Eddie Guardado was then called in from the bullpen to face Jim Edmonds. NL manager Dusty Baker countered that move by replacing Edmonds with Andruw Jones. Jones then slashed a hit down the left field line, easily scoring Rolen. Furcal was steaming into third when a fan interfered with the play. Furcal was awarded home plate, and Jones was given a double. NL top-vote-getter Albert Pujols then singled, driving in Jones from second. The inning finally ended when Guardado got Barry Bonds to fly out.

Maybe it just wasn't meant to be for the NL. Slowly but surely, the American League ate away at the four run deficit. In the sixth, they got two of those runs back. Alex Rodriguez led off the inning against Woody Williams with an infield single up the middle. Though Rafael Furcal managed to field it practically past the second base bag, he butchered the throw, airmailing the 6'8" beanpole that is Richie Sexson at first. With Rodriguez standing on second, Garret Anderson, the eventual All-Star MVP, promptly followed Helton's example and slammed a dinger out to center field.

In the top of the seventh, Andruw Jones faced lefty Mark Mulder who was pitching his second frame. On the fifth pitch, Jones launched one deep to left center to give the National League a three run advantage.

The American League matched blow for blow – in the bottom of that same inning, Jason Giambi single-handedly shaved the lead to two, homering off Astros' closer, Billy Wagner.

The game looked to be all but over for the American League. Heading into the eighth and ninth, they had Eric Gagne and John Smoltz, the two filthiest, nastiest closers the National League had to offer. Gagne lead the NL with 31 saves and had not blown one since August 26 of last year. Yeah, it seemed like the end was near, but in the words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over till it's over."

Gagne got Nomar Garciaparra to ground out for the first out. Anderson doubled, continuing his big night at the plate. Melvin Mora then came in to pinch run for Anderson. Carl Everett came to pinch hit for Martinez and grounded out to first base, allowing Mora to advance to third. One out away from ending his 2003 All-Star stint, Gagne did something he rarely did – he blew it. Vernon Wells doubled, and Mora scored easily. Unlike Dusty Baker who all but emptied his bench in the fifth, Mike Scioscia used his bench sparingly – and wisely. Because he did not wring his bench dry, Scioscia was able to set up a matchup favorable to the AL: Gagne vs. Hank Blalock. Against righties, Blalock was hitting a sweet .349. He made Scioscia look like a pure genius when he smashed a soaring homerun to right field, which proved to be the difference in the game.

Keith Foulke came in the ninth and got three outs on only 14 pitches to earn his first All-Star save.

SFDugout.com's Player of the Game: Really, Garret Anderson stole the show with his 3 hits and two RBI, but as a Giants fan, Jason Schmidt's performance just warmed my heart. (Except when he beaned Martinez; it stopped for a second there.) Schmidt has been through a lot these past two seasons, and I can hardly think of any pitcher who deserved to start the All-Star game for the NL more than our own ace, Jason Schmidt. Kudos to you, Schmidtty, and here's to a great second half!



Michelle Lo, also known as the Armchair Manager, writes recaps and other miscellaneous articles and designs some of the graphics at SFDugout.com. She can be reached by email at aznstarlite00@yahoo.com

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