The World Series may still be three-and-a-half months out, but earning home-field advantage in the fall classic was on the mind of everyone partaking in Tuesday's All-Star game. When the contest ended in San Diego, that coveted prize was handed to the American League, which emerged with a 4-2 victory over the NL's best. An early power surge put the AL in front, and a heavy stream of dominant pitchers kept it that way.
Kris Bryant made the opening statement with two outs in the first, drilling a first-pitch fastball from AL starter Chris Sale over the left-field wall. It may have appeared diminutive after the previous night's theatrics, but it didn't matter.
But the AL responded in the bottom of the second against Johnny Cueto. With one out, Eric Hosmer knocked one out to left field, tying the game at one. After a Mookie Betts single, Salvador Perez squared one up and hit a two-run moonshot to left, giving his league a 3-1 lead. Hosmer lashed an RBI single off Jose Fernandez in the following inning, stretching the advantage to 4-1.
Marcell Ozuna's RBI single in the fourth against Aaron Sanchez cut the NL's deficit to 4-2, but that score would never change. AL manager Ned Yost opened up his treasure trove of shutdown relievers, and that was pretty much that. The NL threatened once more, in the top of the eighth against Andrew Miller. The lefty allowed two singles and a walk before Will Harris entered with the bases loaded and two outs. Harris struck out Aledmys Diaz looking to end the threat, and Zach Britton slammed the door in the ninth.
It was the AL's third consecutive victory in the midsummer classic, and whichever team wins the junior circuit's pennant this October will play games 1, 2, 6 and 7 of the World Series at home. Reasonable minds can debate whether or not a single July game should determine something so important (most seem to agree it shouldn't), but that's the deal once again this season.
This was, in all likelihood, David Ortiz's last All-Star game. The 40-year-old Red Sox DH batted cleanup for the AL and went 0-for-1 with a walk, after which he was pulled for a pinch runner (although giving that designation to Edwin Encarnacion seems a little strange). His teammates all left the dugout to embrace him, which was a really cool thing to see.
The AL's second-inning pitcher, Corey Kluber, was credited with the win, while Cueto was handed the loss. Cueto is 13-1 for San Francisco this year, so his loss total has unofficially doubled. In a humorous twist, he was a member of the Royals when they won the title last season, so it was his former teammates Hosmer and Perez taking him deep and winning long-term bragging rights.
The most buzzworthy moment of the night actually happened well before the game, when Canadian group The Tenors performed "O Canada" and one of the members decided to alter the song's lyrics to say "All Lives Matter," which has emerged as a counter-hashtag to "Black Lives Matter." The "lone wolf," Remigio Peireira, has been dismissed from the group until further notice, The Tenors announced.
Tony Gwynn, the greatest Padre ever and one of history's finest hitters, passed away two years ago, and holding this event in San Diego felt a little weird without him. To honor the Hall of Famer, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is renaming the AL and NL batting titles to honor Rod Carew and Gwynn, respectively. Gwynn's family was present and received a standing ovation, as did Carew.
A gift for Dad
Hosmer was named the game's MVP, a distinction that comes with some cool hardware and a choice of Chevy vehicles. Hosmer elected to go home with the Colorado, a massive truck supposedly going to the first-time All-Star's father.