By: Eric Cain / @_Cainer
Well that was fun. Or was it? I thought the T-Mobile Home Run Derby was Monday night?
The MLB All-Star Game, or Midsummer Classic as I prefer to call it, was literally a model of what baseball is in 2018. Strikeouts and home runs.
The American League reeled off its sixth-straight win over the National League as Alex Bregman’s (Astros) 10th-inning home run broke a 5-5 tie. Astros teammate George Springer followed with a solo home run in the next at-bat and the AL eventually took the contest 8-6 over the best of the NL in 10 innings.
Those were only two of the home runs on the night – and there was even one more in the bottom of the 10th frame from Joey Votto (Reds).
Aaron Judge (Yankees) – of course – began the party with a solo blast off Max Scherzer (Nationals) in the first and Mike Trout (Angels) followed suit in the second when battling Jacob deGrom (Mets). Wilson Contreras (Cubs) finally got the NL on the board in the third with a solo blast off Blake Snell (Rays).
With the AL leading 2-1 all the way into the 7th inning, Charlie Morton (Astros) surrendered the lead when Trevor Story (Rockies) evened things up for the ‘home’ team with a solo home run. Through seven innings there was four runs scored. All four runs were from solo bombs off the bats of four separate players.
Jean Segura (Mariners) broke things wide open in the top of the 8th inning when the Mariner took Josh Hader (Padres) deep for a three-run round tripper. Christian Yellich (Brewers) responded in the bottom of the inning with a solo blast off Morton that brought the score to a 5-3 deficit for the NL.
Then, Scooter Gennett (Reds) tied things at 5-all in the bottom of the ninth when he lined a two-run home run over the right field wall.
From there, it was Bregman’s tie-breaking blast that put the AL squad up for good with Springer who followed. Indians outfielder Michael Brantley registered a sacrifice fly to bring an additional run of insurance. The Brantley sac fly was the only run tallied of the game that wasn’t by way of the long ball. (crazy, huh?)
Votto’s homer that followed gave the NL hope, but that’s all she wrote. The league with the designated-hitter once again took the Midsummer Classic in a bizarre contest that featured a combined 10 home runs.
Both teams witnessed five home runs on each side.
To put things into perspective, there had never been more than six home runs hit in an all-star contest since the first home run was recorded in such game in 1933.
But it truly was a feast or famine type contest. Yes, 10 home runs is a lot, but 25 strikeouts is a lot, too. Pitchers had their way on the night, in regards to the punch out, as hurlers combined to strikeout 15 batter sin the first 4 ½ innings.
Scherzer, who got the start for the NL in front of the home crowd at Nationals Park, fanned four in two innings of work. Aaron Nola (Phillies) and Felipe Vazquez (Pirates) both had two strikeouts while every other pitcher who saw action recorded a strikeout, with the exception of Jeremy Jeffress (Brewers). That list includes deGrom, Mike Foltynewicz (Braves), Josh Hader (Brewers), Brad Hand (Padres) and Ross Stripling (Dodgers) who took the loss on the night.
Combined, the NL recorded 13 of the combined 25 strikeouts.
As for the AL, starter Chris Sale (Red Sox), who made his third-straight all-star start, recorded only one punch out. Joe Jimenez (Tigers) and J.A. Happ (Blue Jays) each recorded one as well while Luis Severino (Yankees), Morton and Edwin Diaz (Mariners) fanned two batters each. Snell struck out a trio of swingers. Jose Berrios (Twins) and Blake Treinen (A’s) did not record a strikeout.
And if your math is correct, folks, that’s 12 strikeouts for the winning team.
This all-star contest, with the game’s best players, is evidence of what the sport of baseball has turned into – it’s feast or famine. However on Tuesday night, it was both. Major League baseball is on-pace to witness its first ever season with more strikeouts than hits. And of course this comes a year after a record-setting home run total.
Home runs are fun. Strikeouts are not (offensively). And the all-star game was virtually even on all accounts. Welcome to the new game.
Selfie count (tons): Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts in OF…Manny Machado, Matt Kemp at second base. And many, many more
Most HR by Team (2): Reds- Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett….Astros- Alex Bregman, George Springer
Most SO by Team: Nationals (4)- Max Scherzer, Rays (3)- Blake Snell, six other teams with (2).
Braves at Plate: 0-for-4, BB (Nick Markakis)
Weather Man: I don’t really know what was going on here — featuring Mike Trout.
Check out the rest of Cain’s Corner HERE.