Robinson Canó’s clutch home run lifted the American League over the National League in the MLB All-Star Game that mostly dominated by pitching
By Harrison McQuinn, sports editor
Robinson Canó launched a 10th inning home run to assure the American League’s fifth consecutive MLB All-Star Game win and lock up the MVP award in a low-scoring contest that featured stellar pitching and a home plate photo op.
The nail-biting contest lasted more than three hours in 80-degree weather at Miami’s Marlins Park. True to the axiom that good pitching beats good hitting, runs were at a premium. The AL’s pitching, supported by Canó timely hitting resulted with a run batted in and a lead-off homer in the 10th.
Bryce Harper, who wore a pair of cleats with a picture of Jose Fernandez – in memoriam to the late Marlins pitcher – captured the mood of the night: “All these guys are competitors out here. We came to this game in order to win.”
The starting line-up for the National League featured Charlie Blackmon, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Daniel Murphy, Nolan Arenado, Ryan Zimmerman, Marcell Ozuna, Zack Cozart, and Max Scherzer took the mound.
The AL countered with Jose Altuve, Jose Ramirez, Arron Judge, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Justin Smoak, Corey Dickerson, Salvador Perez, Mookie Betts, and Red Sox ace Chris Sale.
The game’s best arms kept the bats quite for the first few innings, but defense also played a role. Harper, the leading vote getter and five-time all-star, made a great defensive play to end the second inning.
The sold-out stadium of over 36,000 fans was greeted to an error in the 5th inning. Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop was on second when Canó hit a shallow ball to right.
The ball dropped near three outfielders and Harper, who called off his teammates. The error allowed Schoop to score from second, putting the American League up 1-0.
In a quiet 6th inning, Seattle slugger Nelson Cruz left fans with a memorable appearance at the plate. Cruz surprised everyone when he took out his phone. He handed it to Yadier Molina. The National League catcher snapped a photograph of Cruz and home plate umpire Joe West.
“They told us you don’t’ have the phones in the dugout,” Cruz said in a Fox broadcast interview. “They don’t say the field.”
However, Molina was not done at the plate. Coming off the selfie, Molina, the oldest player to hit a home run in an all-star game, tied the game at one.
“I [felt] like a kid running around the bases,” Molina said of his home run.
One of the best closers of the past two seasons, the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen, entered the game in the top of the ninth to keep the game knotted at 1. Yonder Alonso led off the 9th inning with a single against Jansen, and then he stole second base. The AL had Alonso in scoring position with no outs.
In attempt to quick pitch, the Dodger closer balked advancing Alonso to third. The usually stoic Jansen strangely responded with a grin and gesture almost simultaneously with the call.
The AL did not end up scoring after the balk luckily for the NL. However, the luck disappeared when Wade Davis of the Cubs took over in the 10th.
The NL sent the Cubs’ Wade Davis to the hill and Canó took his first pitch over the right-field fence to give the AL the 2-1 lead and ultimately their fifth-straight all-star game win.
“Facing the best closers in the game, I was ready,” Canó said. “I going to take a pitch right down the middle.”