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 Extra special: American League wins in 15 innings 7/16/08

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PostSubject: Extra special: American League wins in 15 innings 7/16/08   Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:19 am

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
MLB All-Star Game: American League 4, National League 3, 15 innings
Extra special: American League wins in 15 innings
Boston's J.D. Drew earns MVP honors in the longest All-Star Game in history.
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

NEW YORK -- Accustomed to the spotlight, it was as if Yankee Stadium, in its final year, refused to let go. So it didn't.

The night even included a 14th-inning stretch.

The result was a great All-Star Game, and yet another American League victory. Too bad it ended at 1:37 a.m. with so many empty seats and who knows how small of a television audience still watching.

The umpteenth time was the charm, though.

Getting yet another opportunity after failing to cash in on so many earlier golden chances, the A.L. won 4-3 in 15 innings on Michael Young's bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

The victory came long after Carlos Guillen's leadoff double in the 12th gave the A.L. its third consecutive threat to end it, only to fritter them all away. The lone Tigers' player in the game, Guillen went 1-for-3 and also was walked intentionally.

The A.L hasn't lost an All-Star Game since 1996, winning 11 of 12 games with the other ending in a tie. And once again, by virtue of the triumph, the World Series will begin in the city of the A.L. champion.

What an ordeal, though. As N.L. manager Clint Hurdle said, "it got pretty wild. This city has a flair for the dramatic."

Even in the wee hours of the morning.

There were certainly ups and downs on both sides. Florida's Dan Uggla had a terrible game, striking out three times in four at-bats, and making three errors at second base.

On the up side, though, was the game that Boston's J.D, Drew had, being named the game's Most Valuable Player with a walk and two hits, including the game-tying home run in the seventh when the A.L. hadn't yet scored.

Drew told manager Terry Francona he could even pitch if necessary.

"I had some sneaky stuff I could have thrown up there," he said.

With no pitcher left in the bullpen for the A.L., that sneaky stuff might have come in handy.

The game lasted four hours, 50 minutes, prolonged by how many bullets the N.L. dodged. For instance, the Pirates' Nate McLouth threw out Dioner Navarro at the plate in the 11th.

The A.L. also had a great chance to win it in the 10th, loading the bases on Uggla's two errors and an intentional walk to Guillen.

However, three consecutive groundouts -- to first, to third and to short -- enabled Colorado's Aaron Cook to get out of the jam.

"In the last two hours," said Francona, "it wasn't a whole lot of fun. I was very nervous. It was tough. I have acne on my forehead."

To the boos of those who wouldn't root for a Boston player if he paid their rent in the Bronx for a year, Jonathan Papelbon allowed an unearned run in the eighth inning, handing the N.L. a 3-2 lead.

But Evan Longoria's run-scoring double with two outs in the eighth knocked in Grady Sizemore with the tying run.

The loyalist fans also didn't know whether to boo or cheer Drew's game-tying two-run home run in seventh. Some cheered because it got the A.L. back in the game.

Others booed because that's how Yankee fans treat Red Sox no matter what. They didn't have that dilemma with Papelbon's performance, though. Wanting Mariano Rivera in the game instead, they just flat-out booed it.

But even with the location of the World Series opener depending on which team won, and the Yankees-Sox rivalry, these two days weren't just about the game.

They were about Yankee Stadium -- dressing up for what could be its last national moment of glory.

They were about Josh Hamilton, and his awesome display of power on Monday night, and the ensuing whispers about a flawed Home Run Derby system in which a batter with 13 fewer home runs than the runner-up can emerge the winner -- as Justin Morneau did.

They were also about the gathering of Hall of Famers to give Yankee Stadium a fond send-off - and a frail-looking George Steinbrenner being driven in on a golf cart to say hello to some of his favorite players.

All-Star Games should never be about just the game. It's become a celebration of baseball in every sense, from the famous to the fans -- and this celebration was one of a kind.

For a while, though, the game wasn't -- although, looking back, the early innings seemed like the first game of a double-header. The one constant is that from beginning to end, the A.L. ran -- ending up with a record six stolen bases.

After a one-out single in the first, Derek Jeter stole second, but was stranded when starter Ben Sheets struck out Hamilton and retired Alex Rodriguez on a pop-up.

Milton Bradley, the A.L.'s designated hitter, stole second after a one-out walk in the second, but he also was stranded.

The A.L. kept getting runners on, though -- and eventually, hours later, it all paid off.

Getting nothing from three singles through the first four innings, the N.L. dialed up the power with Matt Holliday's leadoff home run in the fifth off the Angels' Ervin Santana.

They took a 2-0 lead in the sixth on two singles followed by Albert Pujols' sacrifice fly. Little did anyone know at that point, but the night was just beginning.

Nine innings later, Yankee Stadium finally let go.

You can reach Tom Gage at tom.gage@detnews.com
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PostSubject: Re: Extra special: American League wins in 15 innings 7/16/08   Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:25 am

Too bad the AL having home field advantage in the WS won't do the Tigers any good
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