Corey Kluber threw a perfect frame in the top of the second against the NL.
Corey Kluber pitched just one inning in Tuesday night’s All Star game, but was credited with the win as the American League beat the National League 4-2. Even though he pitched a perfect second inning, it was a bit of luck and good timing that earned Kluber the W. In the bottom of the inning, the AL took the lead for good on a solo home run from Eric Hosmer and a two-run shot from Salvador Perez. Chris Sale surrendered a solo home run to Kris Bryant in the first, so the two homers gave the AL a 3-1 lead and a Hosmer single in the third inning knocked in the AL’s fourth run. A Marcell Ozuna single knocked in the NL’s second run in the top of the fourth off of Toronto pitcher Aaron Sanchez. Believe it or not, that would be the last time either team scored, even if there were some legitimate threats from both sides throughout the game. Kluber was one of just two AL pitchers to throw a perfect inning; the other was Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera. In the top of the 6th Herrera faced off against Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera for a Herrera vs. Herrera matchup (fun fact!).
Francisco Lindor entered the game in the bottom of the 5th inning as a pinch hitter for starting shortstop Xander Bogaerts and popped out to the shortstop to end the inning. He had a better opportunity in the bottom of the 7th inning, as he came to the plate with the bases loaded. He hit a ball that looked like it was destined to be an RBI single up the middle, but Daniel Murphy made a great play on it to end the inning. Lindor remained at shortstop for the rest of the game, but didn’t really have any big plays.
This means that the American League has home field advantage for the World Series this fall. As a fan of an AL team, this is obviously a good thing. However, I still can’t shake the fact that basing home field advantage on an All Star game is a little silly, especially since it stems from the infamous tie game in 2002 where both teams were out of pitchers and the game was simply called. Yes, an All Star game that ends in a tie isn’t a lot of fun, but this solution seemed comparable to not liking a shirt that you own, so you throw your entire wardrobe in the garbage. A team could theoretically win 110 games and a team that won 87 games gets home field advantage instead because of the All Star game. The Indians only had two players actually appear in this year’s game; contending teams just have to hope that the fans (and players/managers) pick people that will put the AL over the top. I thought this year’s AL starting squad was actually pretty solid, and full of deserving players. But as we know, many years that is not necessarily the case. I’m not saying that the vote should be taken away from the fans, but perhaps a good change would be to pare down the list at each position. Perhaps they could calculate the top 5 players at each position statistically, then let fans vote from those 5 players. That way you’re guaranteed that someone is statistically deserving this year (because even good players have down years) but the fans still get a say in who will be the starters.
I’m sorry to go on a bit of a rant about this; it’s really a non-issue this year because the AL won, and that’s who I wanted to win. It just still seems bizarre to me to put so much weight on what is essentially an exhibition game. Sure it’s fun, and it’s a chance for some of your favorite players to shine on a national stage. But ultimately it does nothing to help you in a pennant chase, and will have little bearing on whether or not the Indians are able to hold off the Tigers, Royals, and White Sox for the rest of the season. I used to get worked up/excited for it, but I’ve really struggled to do so over the past few years. Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoy watching it. I just don’t get as bent out of shape over players that I feel were erroneously left off of the roster, or how the managers choose to use players throughout the game. I’m always terrified that someone from the Indians is going to sustain a serious injury…probably thanks to Ray Fosse being steamrolled by Pete Rose in the 1970 All Star game (which you can watch here). Even though Fosse returned to play daily after the injury, he later found out the collision fractured and separated his shoulder. Granted, a freak injury can occur at any point and any game but I just don’t want to have to sit and think “what if they never made the All Star roster?”
We’re stuck without any baseball for the next few days, and have to wait until Friday for the Indians to take on the Twins in Minnesota. The Twins have been the one AL Central team that seems to have the Indians’ number so far this year, so hopefully they can turn that around this weekend.