SAN DIEGO -- For the first couple of innings, it looked like we'd have a high-scoring, back-and-forth All-Star Game, but the pitchers dug in. The National League had its chances, but the American League bullpen held on for the 4-2 victory. Here are 10 things from the game:
1. The anticlimactic Jose Fernandez-David Ortiz showdown. Before the game, Fernandez had said he'd groove fastballs to Ortiz, maybe even take a little bit off his high-powered heater. "I told him yesterday that I am going to throw him three fastballs down the middle,” Fernandez said. “I want to watch him hit a home run."
Instead, when Ortiz stepped up with one out in the third inning, Fernandez started him with an 80-mph changeup. Ortiz, leading the majors in OBP and slugging at age 40, took it for a ball. You're not going to outsmart the old man.
Ortiz planned to homer in second AB. "My boy told me he wasn't going to throw me nothing but fastballs and the first pitch was a changeup"— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) July 13, 2016
Fernandez then fired three straight 95-mph fastballs, one outside for a ball, the next two fouled off. Maybe he wanted to see Ortiz hit a home run, but the competitive juices took over, and he threw another changeup for ball, a 96-mph fastball that Ortiz again fouled back and then a 3-2 curveball that was inside.
Ortiz pointed to Fernandez as he walked to first base, where he was removed for a pinch-runner. The AL players greeted Ortiz with hugs on the field, his 10th All-Star Game over after two plate appearances. The walk did start a rally, however, as Xander Bogaerts doubled and Eric Hosmer followed with an RBI single to give the AL a 4-1 lead.
Anyway, I have to agree with my colleague here. Why did Ortiz's night end before the shadows covered the infield?
Enjoyed the hugfest, but why is David Ortiz only playing 3 innings -- & getting 2 PA -- in THIS All Star Game. Give this man the stage.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 13, 2016
2. Hello, old friend. Johnny Cueto helped the Kansas City Royals win the World Series, but former teammates Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez greeted him with home runs in the second inning, giving the AL a 3-1 lead. Both hit 1-1 pitches out to left field -- Hosmer hit a cutter, Perez a 93-mph two-seamer -- to become the first teammates to homer in the same All-Star Game since Ortiz and Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox did it in 2004, and only the second pair to homer in the same inning, after the Los Angeles Dodgers' Steve Garvey and Jimmy Wynn went back-to-back off Vida Blue in 1975.
Eric Hosmer: 1st @Royals player with an All-Star Game HR since Bo Jackson in 1989.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 13, 2016
3. Will Harris versus Aledmys Diaz with the game on the line. The game's crucial late-inning matchup came in the top of the eighth. With the AL up 4-2, the NL loaded the bases with two outs against Andrew Miller after two hits and a walk, and Terry Collins sent Aledmys Diaz up to pinch-hit for Corey Seager. That made sense: Get the right-handed Diaz in there to face southpaw Miller. Ned Yost countered with Astros closer Will Harris. So Harris, claimed off waivers less than two years ago, was facing Diaz, who was removed from the Cardinals' 40-man roster last summer (meaning any team could have claimed him), with World Series home-field advantage still up for grabs. You can't predict baseball.
Diaz struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch.
4. Ned's master plan works. If the Royals miss the playoffs and I'm an AL team heading to the postseason, I'm firing my manager on the last day of the season and hiring Ned Yost. (This is a joke.)
Anyway, Yost laid out his game plan on Monday, telling us the order he'd use his five starting pitchers, and then he'd go to his bullpen. It worked. Kelvin Herrera pitched the sixth, Dellin Betances the seventh, Miller and Harris the eighth, and Orioles closer Zach Britton finished it off, working around a leadoff single by Daniel Murphy to get Paul Goldschmidt on a comebacker to the mound and Nolan Arenado on a 5-4-3 double play.
Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, and Ned Yost excelling on a national stage. Feels like October.— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) July 13, 2016
5. Kris Bryant is officially 0-for-6 against Chris Sale with six strikeouts. By official, we mean during the regular season. Bryant swung at the first pitch from Sale in the bottom of the first and crushed a 410-foot home run to left field. As ESPN's Jesse Rogers reported, Bryant's father, Mike, actually ran into Sale in San Diego on Sunday and told him to quit striking out his son. You weren't supposed to listen, Chris.
6. Cole Hamels pitches scoreless inning with eight stitches in his chin. I'm not here to pass judgment, but sounds like Hamels, who is from San Diego, may have had a fun night:
Cole Hamels needed eight stitches in his chin after he tripped coming out of bathroom in his hotel room at 5 am. "Now I can sleep," he said.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 13, 2016
7. Check those baseballs! Commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier Tuesday that there's nothing different about the baseball this year despite the huge increase in home runs, but the All-Star balls certainly were different and pretty cool, with blue-and-gold laces:
8. Francisco Lindor's socks. The players love to bring out their glow-in-the-dark shoes for the All-Star Game, but I liked Lindor's bright red knee-high socks with “All-Star Game” stitched onto them. You can sort of see them here:
9. The CarGo-Altuve exchange After collecting his first All-Star Game hit in the third inning, Carlos Gonzalez set off an entertaining sequence with fellow Venezuelan Jose Altuve by sliding into second softly with his spikes high before getting up and throwing fake punches at Altuve’s stomach.
10. Fernando Rodney shoots the arrow. He usually does it only when he closes out a game, but Rodney -- whom the Padres just traded to the Marlins -- saluted the Padres fans with an arrow after he was removed after getting the first two outs in the eighth.