Yes, it has been that kind of year for the Chicago Cubs. With Joe Maddon managing the National League All-Stars, he brought in Wade Davis — the lone Cubs player on the team — in the top of the 10th inning … and Davis promptly gave up a home run to Robinson Cano, who lined a 1-1 curveball to right field for the winning run in the American League’s 2-1 victory.
In a night dominated by both pitching staffs, the game had a bit of an anticlimactic feeling following Monday’s Home Run Derby. But it certainly wasn’t a surprise that in the Year of the Home Run, it would finally be decided by a homer. What was surprising is that it came off Davis, who has allowed just one home run in 30 innings this season and just four over 212⅓ innings over the past four seasons.
Cano’s homer was the fourth in extra innings in All-Star history, and the previous three were all hit by Hall of Famers: Red Schoendienst in 1950, Stan Musial in 1955 and Tony Perez in 1967. Even cooler: Perez was in the park to be part of the pregame ceremony as one of the eight Latin Hall of Famers who threw out the first pitch.
A few other items from the game you might have missed if your head was still hazy from watching Aaron Judge‘s 500-foot bombs on Monday:
Justin Upton saves the day. In a game that featured several nice defensive plays, Upton’s diving catch in right field robbed Corey Seager of a potential leadoff double or triple off Andrew Miller in the bottom of the 10th. Even more remarkable: Upton hadn’t played right field in the regular season since 2013. Also noteworthy is that Cano and Upton were both injury replacements, Cano for Starlin Castro and Upton for Mike Trout.
Their heroics also evened up the all-time All-Star ledger at 43 wins apiece (although the AL has won 17 of the past 20, with one tie). And get this: Both leagues have scored 361 runs. Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.
Yadier Molina‘s helmet and chest protector was pretty much the most awesome thing ever.Salvador Perez unveiled his gold-colored glove Monday, but Molina topped him with an outfit straight from a Ridley Scott movie.
.@Yadimolina04 out here looking like a trophy.
— MLB (@MLB) July 12, 2017
Maybe Molina should make this a permanent thing. In his first at-bat in the bottom of the sixth inning he tied the score at 1-1 with a home run to right-center off a 2-2 fastball from Ervin Santana.
Nelson Cruz is a big fan of Joe West. Now that the All-Star Game doesn’t matter, the trendy thing will be what fun things players will do doing during the game to create the moment that creates a buzz on social media.
Cruz wins honors this year for walking to the plate, pulling a cellphone out of his back pocket, handing the phone to Molina and posing for a photo with West, the umpire. You read that right. He didn’t pose with Molina but with an umpire. Maybe Cruz is just a big fan of West’s country music and wanted a picture with his favorite musician.
“But first, let me get a picture”
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 12, 2017
Greinke should have hit the phone. He’s got the control to do it.
— Chris Cwik (@Chris_Cwik) July 12, 2017
— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) July 11, 2017
Harper put the shoes in action, making a diving catch on Perez’s soft liner to end the second inning, losing his hat in the process then flipping his hair back to get it out of his face. He was also one of the players mic’d up during the game, as the “this time it doesn’t count” theme allowed Fox to conduct in-game interviews.
Harper was one of those most vocal about just wanting to come to the All-Star Game and having some fun for a couple of days, even proposing a draft so he could face Max Scherzer. Now that the game is back to being just an exhibition, well … maybe we do need it to count.
Look, the idea of the All-Star Game determining World Series home-field advantage was always a little absurd. Here’s my idea, stolen from a fantasy league I’m in: Home field would be determined by three factors: (1) Best regular-season record, (2) The league that fares better in interleague play and (3) All-Star Game winner. Whatever team wins two of the three categories gets home-field advantage. So the All-Star Game could be the decisive third factor in some years, and thus of some importance.
Plus, it at least gives us an excuse for complaining when Judge doesn’t play the whole game.
Speaking of the Big Guy… Judge went 0-for-3 in his All-Star debut, although his impressive victory in the Home Run Derby still made him the star of the week’s All-Star festivities. In his showdown against Scherzer in the first inning, the Nationals’ ace showed respect by starting Judge off with a slider for a called strike. Judge managed to work the count full before swinging and missing on a slider perfectly placed on the outside corner. No, they don’t throw those during the Derby.
Facing Carlos Martinez in his second at-bat, the Cardinals’ right-hander challenged Judge with four pitches clocked at 100 mph, 99.9, 100.1 and 99.2, respectively, with Judge swinging at the fourth one and grounding out to shortstop. He then faced Dodgers lefty Alex Wood and sent a 1-2 changeup to medium-deep right-center, eliciting a momentary rush of excitement from the crowd, but Charlie Blackmon hauled the ball in just short of the warning track.
Don’t run on Mookie.Nolan Arenado learned what AL players already know: Mookie Betts has one of the best arms in the league. Betts was in center field with Arenado on first with no outs in the fourth inning when Ryan Zimmerman hit a fly ball to the warning track. Arenado tried to tag up from first, but Betts delivered a rocket measured at 93.1 mph, easily nailing Arenado for the double play.
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) July 12, 2017
Bettis underwent surgery for testicular cancer in spring training but is on the mend and will make his first rehab start Thursday for the Hartford Yard Goats. He’ll throw 30 pitches, simulating a first spring training start and gradually work back up to 90-95 pitches over six weeks.
Pitch of the day.Dellin Betances, who has walked 26 batters in 28 1/3 innings, struggled again with his control, walking two and throwing two wild pitches in his inning of work — although he escaped without giving up any runs. He did, however, throw this pitch to Daniel Murphy:
Dellin Betances, 84 mph curveball movement. 🤢😷😱 pic.twitter.com/5AAmAsejhp
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 12, 2017
Baseball fever, catch it. Given the price of All-Star tickets, why would you leave early? Fans started trickling out in the seventh inning, and by the ninth, Marlins Park was about only two-thirds full:
Quite a few empty seats in the bottom of the ninth of a 1-1 All-Star Game at Marlins Park. pic.twitter.com/yDZWVpxVMk
— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) July 12, 2017
I always say this about the All-Star activities: You don’t have to like it. Maybe the Home Run Derby isn’t your thing and you don’t like that the game doesn’t seem to mean as much as it once did. Still, it’s a three-day celebration of the sport and, especially in diverse city like Miami, a reminder of all the cultures that baseball touches.
It is something that brings us all together, and that’s an important attribute in 2017.