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 AL beats NL, keeps All-Star streak alive, Granderson key

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PostSubject: AL beats NL, keeps All-Star streak alive, Granderson key   Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:39 am

AL beats NL, keeps All-Star streak alive
Granderson laces triple in eighth, scores game-winning run

By Matthew Leach / MLB.com

07/15/09 1:30 AM ET

Box >

ST. LOUIS -- It was an All-Star Game full of fresh faces until the very end. And that meant a very familiar result on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

The American League extended its unbeaten streak in the Midsummer Classic to 13 years with a 4-3 win over the National League in front of 46,860. The AL's run without a loss is the longest unbeaten streak in All-Star history.

First-time All-Stars Adam Jones and Curtis Granderson teamed up to deliver the winning run for the Junior Circuit, which will have home-field advantage in this year's World Series, but All-Star veterans Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera brought the game home in relief.

"That's what we came here to do," said Rivera, who set a record with the fourth All-Star save of his magnificent career. "We came here with a mission and our mission was accomplished."

Jones' sacrifice fly with one out in the top of the eighth inning scored Granderson, who had tripled, for the winning run. That made a winner of Red Sox closer Papelbon, who pitched a perfect seventh despite a couple of very loud outs. The NL led early and for much of the game, but it couldn't bring home the victory in the late innings.

Thus in many ways, the game followed a very similar script to several recent All-Star Games -- all the way down to the game-winner, as it was the second consecutive year the AL won on a sac fly. Throughout the AL's unbeaten streak, the NL has threatened with many close calls, including four successive one-run losses. But in the end, the AL always comes up with the key hit, the big catch and especially the finishing pitch.

"I give them all the credit in the world," said NL manager Charlie Manuel. "They played a tremendous game. They got big hits when they had to, and they held us at the end."

The game turned drastically within a seven-batter stretch in the seventh and eighth innings.

Facing Papelbon, Brad Hawpe led off the bottom of the seventh with a high, deep drive to left field. All-Star Game MVP Carl Crawford tracked the ball all the way to the wall, timed his leap perfectly and reached over the wall to rob Hawpe of what would have been a tie-breaking homer. Miguel Tejada followed with a deep drive to right field, but his bid for a homer fell just short of the fence.

Crawford's catch earned him MVP honors.

"It's got to be the top play [of my career]," Crawford said. "I don't think I've ever robbed a home run before, so I picked a good time to do it tonight. It's definitely probably my best catch I've ever made."

Papelbon struck out Jayson Werth to end the inning, keeping the game tied. After Padres closer Heath Bell got a grounder to open the eighth, Granderson smacked a one-out triple that Justin Upton couldn't corral. Upton, playing left field for the first time, might have been able to play the ball better but it still would have been tough to gun down the speedy Granderson.

"I was waiting to see, did he catch it? ... As soon as it started to kick away, then I go ahead and say, 'Hey, I'm going to third,'" Granderson said.

After an intentional walk to Victor Martinez, Jones delivered the game-winner against Bell, who took the loss.

"It's still surreal to me," said Jones. "Right man at the right time. I'm glad the National League decided to walk Victor Martinez ahead of me."

The end overshadowed what was an entertaining and competitive game throughout. Both starters had some difficulty, and then the bullpens locked down.

NL starter Tim Lincecum got into trouble quickly, allowing a leadoff single to Ichiro Suzuki and hitting Derek Jeter with a pitch. Lincecum nearly got out of it, though. Joe Mauer grounded into a force and Mark Teixeira hit a grounder to Albert Pujols, but Pujols booted the ball and a run scored. After Jason Bay's soft single, Josh Hamilton grounded into a force play to bring home a second AL run.

Pujols made a couple of brilliant plays later in the game, but the Gold Glover's error still proved costly.

"The ball was hit in between second and first, and I just kind of got lost a little bit," Pujols said. "It kind of handcuffed me, because it went through Mauer's legs almost. I kind of lost that vision. But that's an error you don't want to make early in the game like that. It cost us two runs. But hey, it's part of the game. You learn from the experience."

Roy Halladay received that 2-0 lead before he even took the mound, and when he retired the first five NL batters, it appeared he was on his way to a superb night. But David Wright and Shane Victorino slapped two-out singles, and hometown hero Yadier Molina did something very familiar to the home fans when he delivered a clutch two-out hit. A throwing error by Hamilton allowed a second run to score, and Prince Fielder put the NL ahead with a pinch-hit RBI double.

"I think the hardest part is that you have a bunch of guys that you've never seen," Halladay said. "You're not quite sure what to do, but I had a lot of fun. For the most part I felt good. In games like this, you want to go out and you want to be aggressive. If you get hit, it's because you're throwing strikes and making guys swing the bat. I think that's what it's all about."

The lead stood until the fifth, when Mauer lined a two-out double to left field against Chad Billingsley. That scored Jeter, who had beaten out a potential double-play ball one batter earlier.

"I had three at-bats against three pitchers, and they're the best in the game," Mauer said. "So I tried to stay short. He threw me a cutter outside, and I was able to put a good swing on it."

Meanwhile, the AL pitchers were locking down as tight as security for President Barack Obama, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. AL pitchers retired 18 consecutive batters from the second into the eighth inning, the second longest such streak in All-Star Game history. Mark Buehrle, Zack Greinke, Edwin Jackson, Felix Hernandez and Papelbon all pitched perfect innings before the NL threatened against Nathan in the eighth.

The Twins closer got the first two outs of the inning, but walked Adrian Gonzalez. Orlando Hudson singled off shortstop Jason Bartlett's glove, bringing up the dangerous Ryan Howard. With full faith in his right-hander, though, AL manager Joe Maddon never had a thought of going to lefty -- and AL saves leader -- Brian Fuentes.

"These stallions in the bullpen, it's not necessary to match up," Maddon said. "It was their inning. There's no concern about matching up with those three guys in the bullpen. It's just their inning."

And just as Maddon expected, Nathan escaped. He got Howard to swing at a slider for the strikeout, ending the last real threat for the home team.

"I fouled off a couple fastballs and couldn't hold up on the slider," said Howard, a St. Louis-area native who would have been a huge hero if he'd delivered.

"That's the game of baseball, sometimes it happens like that. I came up a little bit short. I got caught off guard. He threw me a slider and I just couldn't hold up."

And with that out, the game was all but over, because Rivera loomed. The Hall of Fame-bound Yankees closer twirled an utterly uneventful 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the record-breaking save.

Some things just don't change.

"Everyone keeps talking about the winning streak that we have, but there have been a lot of games that could have gone either way," Jeter said. "It says a lot about our pitching. They have great players and a great team, but we're just fortunate."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: AL beats NL, keeps All-Star streak alive, Granderson key   Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:42 am

American way

The American League hasn't lost an All-Star Game since 1996, a 6-0 National League victory at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The 13-game unbeaten streak is the longest for either side in All-Star history.
Year
Score
Site
1997AL 3, NL 1 Jacobs Field, Cleveland
1998AL 13, NL 8Coors Field, Denver
1999AL 4, NL 1Fenway Park, Boston
2000AL 6, NL 3Turner Field, Atlanta
2001AL 4, NL 1Safeco Field, Seattle
20027-7 tieMiller Park, Milwaukee
2003AL 7, NL 6U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago
2004AL 9 ,NL 4Minute Maid Park, Houston
2005AL 7, NL 5Comerica Park, Detroit
2006AL 3, NL 2PNC Park, Pittsburgh
2007AL 5, NL 4AT&T Park, San Francisco
2008AL 4, NL 3Yankee Stadium, New York
2009AL 4, NL 3Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Complete All-Star Game results >


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: AL beats NL, keeps All-Star streak alive, Granderson key   Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:52 am

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tom Gage: MLB All-Star Game: AL 4, NL 3
Curtis Granderson's big hit helps AL win grand prize

Detroit

Take it from a convert -- one who's been there but wasn't there -- the All-Star Game is a match made in network heaven.

It's still the best All-Star Game in sports. But beyond doubt, it's also the best televised All-Star Game in sports.

So sayeth one who muted the commercials between innings -- and enjoyed doing so -- but didn't mute Curtis Granderson's one-out triple in the eighth that led to the winning run in the American League's 4-3 triumph over the National League.

When you cover an All-Star Game, you cover a baseball game. Story, notes, quotes -- the same menu as a Tigers' game.

That's fine. Those are important. They are the lifeblood of coverage. They tell you what happened. But in this day and age, they might not tell you what most people will remember.

And most people weren't at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night. Just as they weren't sitting in the press box, keeping score, and trying to figure out which players haven't been used yet.

Most people were in their living rooms, or in their family rooms, or their kitchens, their dens, their great rooms, their basements, or their bedrooms, or at the bar watching the game on television.

Me? I was in my kitchen.

That's where I became a convert -- from grumpy scribe thinking TV interferes with the true coverage of the All-Star Game to realizing the full scope of how the experience has evolved.

How's this for a change?

Now let me make this perfectly clear. HDTV helped. And having a pregame hamburger perfectly grilled -- if I do say so myself -- helped.

And having broadcaster Joe Buck conduct a relaxed, entertaining interview of President Barack Obama, who refreshingly didn't cover up just how much of a White Sox fan he is, helped.

Even some old gripes faded. Like the starting-time gripe

It's always been a source of personal dismay, if not more, that baseball begins its showcase games, like the World Series and All-Star Game, too darn late.

Your resident baseball Grinch had it all planned this time. He Googled the official Eastern Daylight time, and jotted down, to the second, when the first pitch was thrown. All in the name of thinking it would begin too late.

So the first pitch, it can be said with certainty, was thrown at 8:50:13 EDT -- but you know what? It wasn't too late.

Maybe the first pitch of most World Series games is thrown too late, October days being shorter. But as dusk deepened on a peaceful July night, outside this kitchen at least, first pitch could even have been 8:50:14 and no one would have complained.

It was the sort of classically gentle evening, if you know the play "Our Town," on which you could smell Mrs. Gibbs' heliotrope.

This was a good All-Star Game, but it was a better-than-good experience. Conversion can be enlightening, can't it?

A perfect summer night

From watching Granderson riding in the pregame red carpet parade with his mom and dad -- nothing splashy, nothing showy, just family pride of mom and dad.

From Stan Musial's dignified entrance to the prediction from Ken Rosenthal, FOX's fine on-the-scene reporter, that Roy Halladay will get traded by the end of the month, there was something for everyone.

It didn't even matter that my next-door-neighbor played her piano with her windows open and my windows open during the seventh-inning stretch.

It was all good.

Because it was a summer night at home, the All-Star Game was on -- and sometimes being a baseball writer is the act of stepping back and being a baseball watcher instead.

The Tigers did well. Justin Verlander didn't play. But Edwin Jackson needed only four pitches to get through his scoreless inning. Brandon Inge got into the game at third base and grounded to short in his only at-bat.

And at 11:21:04 EDT, it didn't even end late. Then again, who keeps track of such things?

tom.gage@detnews.com


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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