Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Trout Leads AL To Victory

GAME RECAP: AL Defeats NL 6-3

An unquestionably successful All-Star experience in Cincinnati saw some its most memorable moments delivered by two guys from New Jersey. Third baseman Todd Frazier of the host Reds, with an assist from a new format, provided the drama and energy while winning the Gillette Home Run Derby sponsored by Head and Shoulders on Monday. Then, Angels superstar Mike Trout added his own sizzle on Tuesday to the 86th All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile. Trout hit a leadoff home run and scored two runs, setting the tone for the American League in a 6-3 victory over the National League before 43,656 fans at Great American Ball Park. It was the third straight All-Star win for the AL, which will have home-field advantage once again in the World Series. Trout became the first back-to-back winner of the All-Star Game MVP Award presented by Chevrolet. "It means a lot," Trout said. "Obviously, [we] came out with a 'W.' That's the biggest thing. When I go out there, I play my hardest every day. … It's just an incredible honor to be a part of the All-Star Game and win the MVP twice. It's something special, for sure." It was two AL runs in the top of the fifth inning against Clayton Kershaw that snapped a 1-1 tie. Pinch-hitting, Prince Fielder hit an RBI single with one out and was followed by Lorenzo Cain, who laced an RBI double. Andrew McCutchen hit a homer for the NL to lead off the sixth, but the AL added on with two runs in the seventh on Manny Machado's RBI double off the wall in right-center field and Fielder's sacrifice fly off Francisco Rodriguez. Brian Dozier provided an eighth-inning homer to give the AL insurance. The winning pitcher was David Price, who threw a perfect fourth inning with two strikeouts, while Kershaw was the losing pitcher. Unforgettable moments began even before the first pitch, when the "Franchise Four" players from all 30 teams were announced. The Reds were saved for last and introduced on the field, with the fans erupting for Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Barry Larkin and, especially, Pete Rose. It was followed by the introduction of the four greatest living players -- Henry Aaron, Bench, Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays. "It was awesome to see guys like that," Trout said. With a strong All-Star week behind it, Cincinnati passes the baton to San Diego, the host for the 2016 Midsummer Classic.

  • The AL jumped out to a lead immediately when Trout led off the game by hitting NL starter Zack Greinke's 1-2 pitch into the first row of right-field seats. The ball had an exit velocity of 100.2 mph, according to Statcast™. It was only the fourth time in All-Star Game history that there has been a homer to begin the top of the first inning, and it was the first time since the Reds' Joe Morgan did it in 1977. The last first-inning leadoff homer in the All-Star Game was by Bo Jackson of the Royals in the bottom of the first in 1989. Trout finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs scored and improved to 5-for-10 in his All-Star career. "It was a lot of fun," AL manager Ned Yost said. "We've been really working on our game plan for the last week. We tried to punch holes in it every which way we could, and we worked it to perfection. We wanted to put power at the top of the lineup and hopefully get a quick strike. Mike Trout took care of that for us."
  • The AL starter, Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, allowed just one ball out of the infield in his two innings but surrendered an unearned run in the second. He recorded one strikeout, inducing four ground-ball outs. Keuchel became the fourth Astros pitcher to start an All-Star Game and the first since Roger Clemens in 2004 (Mike Scott in 1987 and J.R. Richard in '80 were the others). "The best experience I've ever had in my life," Keuchel said. "I'm just thankful I was able to get the nod and I guess throw strikes. I was worried about being too amped up and being all over the place, but I was able to calm down after that first pitch and able to settle in." 
  • Following the Trout homer, Greinke did not give up another hit. His line was one earned run with one hit, one walk and four strikeouts. His four K's were the most by an All-Star pitcher since Boston's Pedro Martinez struck out five at Fenway Park in 1999, and the most by an NL pitcher since Lee Smith in 1987. Greinke hadn't allowed a run in 35 2/3 innings entering the Midsummer Classic.
  • After Paul Goldschmidt reached on an infield single and a throwing error by third baseman Josh Donaldson, the NL evened the game in the second with an unearned run. Jhonny Peralta blooped a two-out RBI single to short right field that scored Goldschmidt to make it a 1-1 game. The NL did not have another baserunner until Peralta walked with one out in the fifth, and it lacked another hit until McCutchen's homer to begin the sixth.
  • Price struck out NL sluggers Bryce Harper and Goldschmidt during a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth inning. Price has been on five All-Star teams and has pitched in three All-Star Games, allowing just one hit and no runs over four innings. He started for the AL in 2010 and pitched two innings, then tossed another perfect frame for the AL in '12.  
  • Madison Bumgarner retired Salvador Perez to end Game 7 of the 2014 World Series and also struck out Perez in the top of the fourth, his lone inning in the All-Star Game. The Bumgarner-Perez rematch was an entertaining battle in which Perez worked a full count, but eventually Bumgarner got the Royals' catcher to strike out swinging. However, strike three was a wild pitch, allowing Perez to reach first base. In Bumgarner's scoreless fourth, he did allow a single to Cain. The Royals outfielder added an RBI double in the fifth, becoming the first Royals player to have a multihit All-Star Game since Jackson in 1989. George Brett did it three times. 
  • With two outs and a runner on second in the top of the fifth, Kershaw had a 1-2 count on Albert Pujols before walking him with three straight balls. That opened the door for the AL, and Fielder snapped a tied game with a single to left field that scored Trout. Cain followed with an RBI double scorched down the left-field line to score Pujols and make it a 3-1 game. "Not great," Kershaw said. "I gave up a couple of runs, so it's never the best."  
  • Right-hander Jacob deGrom, the Mets' lone All-Star, represented his team well in the top of the sixth inning by striking out the side -- Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias -- on only 10 pitches, including nine strikes. Eight of his pitches were clocked at 96 mph or faster, including a 97-mph heater that fanned Vogt for the inning's first out. deGrom is the first pitcher in All-Star Game history with three strikeouts in an inning while using 10 pitches or fewer. Brad Lidge used 11 pitches in 2005. "That was unreal," deGrom said. "I was looking forward to getting a chance to throw, and I was pretty nervous in the bullpen, but when I got out there the nerves kind of went away, it was an awesome experience." 
  • Trout's speed on the basepaths was a huge factor in a two-run fifth inning for the AL off Kershaw. Trout reached a top speed of 21.3 mph in beating out a forceout after Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar led off with a single. Following a walk by Angels teammate Pujols, Trout scored the go-ahead run on a single by Fielder, topping out at 20.4 mph as he raced home from second base to beat a throw from Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson that was clocked at 92.5 mph.
  • In the bottom of the sixth inning on the first pitch he saw from Chris Archer, McCutchen led off with a home run into the left-field seats that cut the NL's deficit at the time to one run. According to Statcast™, McCutchen's drive left the bat at 107 mph and was projected to land 406 feet away. McCutchen's homer, coupled with Trout's, marked the first time since 1965 that both starting leadoff batters had homered in an All-Star Game. In '65, Mays (NL) and Dick McAuliffe (AL) both homered. 
  • Playing in his first All-Star Game, Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias helped cut short a potential rally by the NL with a great play in the hole to end the eighth inning. With a runner on second and two outs, Iglesias ranged to his right to scoop a sharp ground ball off the bat of Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal. With his momentum carrying him away from first base, Iglesias then threw across his body, firing a strike to Mark Teixeira for the out.
  • The home fans weren't disappointed when Reds closer Aroldis Chapman entered for the top of the ninth and struck out the side, getting Brock Holt, Mike Moustakas and Teixeira. Chapman threw 14 pitches, 12 of which were clocked at 100 mph or faster. He twice reached 103 mph facing Moustakas, including his K for the second out. "I feel really happy," Chapman said via translator Tomas Vera. "I can't describe it, but I feel like I had so much fun. I want to do this. I'm happy I threw the ninth. I had a chance to show the fans and everybody else what they're used to seeing every night, pitching the way I do."
  • Trout's first All-Star Game at-bats keep improving each year. His first at-bat in 2012 was a single. In 2013? A double. Last year? A triple. And now the homer to start his 2015 Midsummer Classic. Trout became the ninth player to hit for a career cycle in the All-Star Game, and Fielder became the 10th with his single in the fifth. The other eight: Lou Whitaker, Brett, Mike Schmidt, Steve Garvey, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, Mays and Ted Williams.
  • The National League's edge over the American League in All-Star Games continued to shrink. The NL leads the all-time series, 43-41-2. The AL is 21-5-1 over the last 27 All-Star Games.
  • "That was good. That was fun. Obviously, when you spend 12 years coming to Cincinnati and you beat them so many times, they're going to boo you. It was a great time. I was enjoying it." -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, on fans of the NL Central-rival Reds booing him and his teammates.
  • The Phillies don't have much history facing Fernandez, but one player who has enjoyed success off him is Freddy Galvis, who is 3-for-6. Chase Utley, who's on the DL, is 2-for-9.
  • The Marlins and Phillies will meet for their third series this year, and second in Philadelphia. Miami holds a 4-2 advantage in the season series.
  • Dee Gordon, Miami's All-Star second baseman, is not expected to go on the disabled list. The Marlins are aiming to reinstate third baseman Martin Prado (right shoulder) from the DL, and he's a candidate to be a short-term option at second beginning Friday.
After the All-Star break, the club returns home to open a three-game series against the Miami Marlins on Friday night. Left-hander Adam Morgan makes his fourth career start as he squares off against the Marlins' Jose Fernandez. Morgan is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA in his rookie season. The Marlins' ace, who made both of his first-half starts in Miami, will open the second half against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Friday. Fernandez already has regained his old form, notching wins in each of his first two starts back from Tommy John surgery. While the hard-throwing right-hander has dominated at Marlins Park (14-0, 1.17 ERA) in his career, he has been vulnerable on the road, where he is 4-8 with a 3.93 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in his career in Philadelphia. The Phillies are starting the series off with rookie Adam Morgan, who is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts. The lefty has 12 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings, and this will be his second home start. He's lost back-to-back decisions on the road after opening his career with a 5 2/3-innings win over the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on June 21.


Enjoying The Experience – Earlier in his career, during several of his initial All-Star experiences in the mid-2000s, Jonathan Papelbon recalls huddling with Mariano Rivera and some of the game's other top closers. He picked their brains, eager to extract any nuggets of wisdom he could find. "Speak of the devil," Papelbon said Tuesday, nodding to a clubhouse television. Replays of Rivera were flashing across the screen. These days, Rivera is retired, his presence in big league clubhouses confined to such video reels. But Papelbon is still kicking as one of the game's best closers, despite going unused in the National League's 6-3 loss to the American League in the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile at Great American Ball Park. Papelbon may not wish to continue playing for the Phillies, as he stated in no uncertain terms during Monday's All-Star media day. But his 1.60 ERA and 14-for-14 record in save situations prove he still has plenty left to give at age 34 -- in Philadelphia or elsewhere. He's one of the old guys now, one of the Riveras, older than all but six of the 76 players on this year's All-Star rosters. Papelbon's six All-Star appearances matched Francisco Rodriguez and Ryan Braun for the second-most of anyone in the NL clubhouse, so he felt like he had something to offer. "Of course you want to come in to pitch, make it feel worthwhile, you know?" Papelbon said. Yet not pitching, Papelbon said, hardly ruined his experience, considering he had appeared in four of his previous five All-Star Games, striking out five batters over 3 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run. He considered this week in Cincinnati just as worthwhile. If Papelbon is indeed traded and this winds up being his last All-Star Game as a Phillie, he'll remember it for the conversations he had and the wisdom he imparted to those younger than he -- so much of it garnered from the Riveras of the world over a career's worth of All-Star Games. "Those are some of the top experiences that I'll remember the most," Papelbon said of his talks with the NL's other top relievers. "I give them the best advice I can give, whatever the subject or topic may be."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 29-62. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 45-58-0 on this day.

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