National League 8 @ American League 0
An early, lopsided blowout isn’t exactly the kind of game that holds viewers’ attention–even if it’s an historic blowout. So unless you had a financial interest in the game, or you’re related to one of the players, there wasn’t much reason to hold on through Tuesday night’s marathon. Here are some of the highs and lows from the evening.
- Joe Buck and Tim McCarver had their unmistakable non-chemistry working to full effect all night. McCarver in particular seemed to have fleeting interest in the game, going long stretches without speaking, and then only in half sentences that weren’t tethered to any discernible train of thought. He also seemed to have a malfunctioning cough button, punctuating the evening with a litany of grunts, snorts, and throat-clearing growls. That left Buck to do most of the heavy lifting for the broadcast, which never goes well.
- On other note about the FOX broadcast–someone on the production staff decided it would be a good idea to use various versions of the song “Kansas City.” Almost exclusively. Buck warned the audience that they would have the song ringing in their ears for days. Like Buck, the novelty wore off fast and it quickly grew tiresome.
- Justin Verlander came into the game with an incredible streak of going at least 6 innings deep into his last 60 starts. Of course he wasn’t going to continue that trend Tuesday night. But with the way he pitched, he was lucky to make it out of the 1st inning. He surrendered 5 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, and never really looked in control. For one of the best pitchers in the game, it was a rotten, humiliating night.
- However, if you were pulling for the NL, the first inning was great. Melky Cabrera–the eventual game MVP–started it off with a single, then came in to score on Ryan Braun’s double. Walks to Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey loaded the bases in front of Pablo Sandoval, who cleared them with a triple into the RF corner. He also scored on Dan Uggla’s infield single to give the NL a 5-run lead before the AL ever came to the plate.
- That 5-run deficit was daunting enough on its own, but it might as well have been 50 the way Matt Cain was pitching. He surrendered only 1 hit in his 2 innings of work, facing only 7 batters. Between Cain, Cabrera, and Sandoval, Giants fans had a lot to be proud of Tuesday night.
- The rest of the AL pitchers performed pretty well. Joe Nathan, David Price, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, Ryan Cook, Jim Johnson, and Fernando Rodney each pitched a scoreless inning. Matt Harrison was the only other AL pitcher to give up any offense, serving up a run-scoring double to Matt Holliday and a 2-run homer to Melky Cabrera in the 4th inning. After that, the game was effectively over.
- Chipper Jones received a nice ovation from the crowd when he pinch hit in the 6th inning. In his last All Star Game appearance, he rolled a single past Ian Kinsler. If you’re a Chipper Jones fan, it was a nice, memorable moment from his final victory lap around the league. I am not a Chipper Jones fan.
- Larry wasn’t the only one making what seems to be his last All Star appearance Tuesday–retired manager Tony La Russa coached the NL team this year for perhaps the final time. I say good riddance. Not only did he make a few of his patented unnecessary pitching changes at the end of the game, he staged a final campaign against the Cubs’ representatives–exactly the kind of behavior you’d expect from the King Weasel of Passive-Aggressive Mountain. Allow me to explain: despite having only two 1Bs and two SSs on his NL roster, it took until the bottom of the 7th for Bryan LaHair to see the field; Starlin Castro had to wait until the top of the 8th. Instead of inserting either Cubs All Star representative, La Russa called on David Freese (the Cardinals 3B who has played a total of 21 innings at 1B in his entire career) to take over at 1B in the 5th inning. For all I know, Freese had to borrow LaHair’s glove to take the field in such an unfamiliar position. Even if you buy that La Russa had to find a way to get all four of his 3Bs into the game, it’s still pretty disrespectful of LaHair (and the players who voted him onto the squad) to make him sit while Freese got the call. And keeping Castro off the field was even less defensible, making him sit through 7 innings of the blowout before subbing him in for starter–and fellow Cardinal–Rafael Furcal. You know, because Furcal needed 3 at-bats last night. To borrow a joke from @OldHossRadbourn, it was the kind of game management strategy you dream up while passed out in front of a stoplight.
- Sadly, when Castro and LaHair did make it into the game, they didn’t do much. Both fielded their positions well, but neither was able to put together a memorable at-bat, seeing only 3 pitches combined. Still, it’s beyond lame that they each only had one at-bat. Thanks, Tony. Thanks for nothing.