It couldn’t have been a more fitting ending for Yankee Stadium, home of the All-Star festivities in The Final Season. It saw the longest All-Star game ever to be played (4 hours, 50 minutes in a record-tying 15 innings) in a finish that saw the winning run beat a throw at the plate by a half second off of the closer who is a perfect 20-for-20 in save opportunites on the season (Brad Lidge) and a Red Sox player be named the MVP (J.D. Drew).
It was one of the most exciting All-Star games ever, with an intensity that exuded playoff atmosphere. As the game went into extra innings, the story was on Red Sox coach Terry Francona’s reluctance to use Tampa Bay’s Scott Kazmir, who had a 104-pitch outing on Sunday and whose coaches advised Francona to refrain from using him. But as the game was extended, both coaches were forced down to their last pitchers, a couple who pitched on Sunday. (You could only imagine the sigh of relief from Francona when the game was over that Kazmir walked away with just 1 inning of work and 14 pitches. Heck, he ended up winning the game.) That prompted critics to suggest that the All-Star game panel should explore the selection of alternates to replace pitchers who pitch the final game before the break so that they are fresh and ready to pitch. Brandon Webb who threw 109 pitches on Sunday, worked the 14th inning in 13 pitches.
Dan Uggla couldn’t have had a worse first All-Star appearance. First in the Home Run Derby, he was eliminated in the first round, which isn’t much to care about. In the All-Star game, he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and grounded into a double play, leaving a game-high six men on base. On defense, he set a record three errors and bobbled a few more at second base.
After all of the fuss over whether Jonathan Papelbon or Mariano Rivera should close the game, the two combined for four strikeouts in 2.2 innings and an unearned run. How about winning the game first?
The American League has now won the last eleven contests along with that disastrous 7-7 tie in 2002. It was the third consecutive one-run decision and Ichiro Suzuki was last year’s MVP.
Home Run Derby
Josh Hamilton provided the bombs, setting a record-setting round with 28 homers in the first round, but it was late fill-in Justin Morneau who won the competition, edging Hamilton 5-3 in the finals. The previous record was Bobby Abreu‘s 24 with Philadelphia in 2005, but Abreu has the record with a total of 41 home runs to Hamilton’s 35. Last year’s winner was Vladimir Guerrero.