Bautista plates first run with sac fly; Cecil, Delabar provide key punchouts
NEW YORK -- It was a very successful night for the four Toronto Blue Jays All-Stars on two major levels: Their team won, and they enjoyed themselves.
The American League broke a three-game losing streak and stopped the National League, 3-0, on Tuesday night at Citi Field. Some fortunate AL team will now be given the gift of home-field advantage in the 2013 World Series.
Jose Bautista, becoming a perennial All-Star starter, delivered a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning for the game's first run. This is not normally a particularly dramatic development, but in a game where runs were nonexistent to scarce, this was the game-winning run.
"RBIs win games, so that's something that I take a lot of pride in, driving in runs," Bautista said, speaking to reporters in the seventh inning. "The way these guys are pitching today, that might be all we need."
Two of "these guys" who were shutting down the NL were Blue Jays relievers. They made back-to-back appearances in the seventh. Lefty Brett Cecil struck out power-hitting Domonic Brown of the Phillies, and then Steve Delabar struck out Buster Posey of the Giants, the NL MVP Award winner in 2012.
"It's the same thing that they've shown us all year," Bautista said.
The Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion pinch-hit for David Ortiz in the seventh and grounded into a double play. Remaining in the game as the designated hitter, Encarnacion grounded out in the ninth. But he had faced flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman of the Reds and Pittsburgh's Jason Grilli, who had an outstanding first half.
"Chapman throws 100 miles an hour, and you don't know what he's throwing," Encarnacion said with a smile. "It's hard."
But Encarnacion was here, a deserving All-Star. And he took pride in the achievements of his teammates.
"For me, it was very special for my teammates," Encarnacion said. "They played in the All-Star Game and they did what they had to do, they did their jobs, they got it done. Cecil pitched great. Delabar pitched great, too. Bautista drove in a run."
There was a time not that long ago when Cecil and Delabar would have been long shots to make a big league roster, much less an All-Star team. But this season, they have been dominant relievers.
"Honestly, in a way, it was just like any other game that I've ever come into," Cecil said. "No extra adrenaline. I don't know if I wanted that extra adrenaline -- I wouldn't know where the pitch was going.
"But now I'm savoring this. I'll remember this forever. It was everything I could have hoped for. Just to be a part of it, I'm very honored."
Delabar's impact was such that he was elected to the team in the AL Final Vote. Here, like the other Blue Jays, he said he was especially excited to be able to spend time with Mariano Rivera, in what was be Rivera's final All-Star Game. What has Delabar learned from the legendary Yankees closer?
"How to be a true professional," Delabar said. "The way that he goes about his business. Just talking to him, you see why the guys in front of him pitch the way they do, because they know that you want to get the game to him, you want to do well for him."
The total All-Star experience was "in one word, unbelievable," Delabar said.
Bautista, the four-time All-Star veteran, enjoyed the experience on a couple of levels. The presence of his three teammates, first-time All-Stars, was a treat.
"It's always fun to see your teammates enjoy success and be recognized by coming here," Bautista said. "Edwin was deserving last year, I felt, and I was a little bit let down that he couldn't make it. The job that our bullpen has done, to have two guys represent us here, it's great."
Watching these teammates enjoy the All-Star experience reminded Bautista of how enjoyable this rare honor can and should be.
"I think we are all a bunch of little kids inside when it comes to baseball," he said. "We all love the game still, and we get to enjoy all these festivities, all the activities."