AL holds off NL to win 7th straight All-Star Game

July 10th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Baseball’s soul, strength, substance and silliness were all on display in the 90th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. And ultimately, it was the swagger of an American League squad on a seven-season win streak that owned the night with the Junior Circuit’s 4-3 victory.

An early Astros offensive attack highlighted by the RBI double from former Indians outfielder in his old ballpark got the AL on the board in the second. A couple manufactured runs, and then a bit of the profound power we’ve come to expect from Rangers outfielder , who hit a solo shot in the seventh, added on.

Meanwhile, dominant innings from the likes of Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, Jose Berrios, Luis Castillo and, most notably, local hero , ensured the offensive onslaught we saw in last summer’s Midsummer Classic would not repeat itself – even in a 2019 season that has doubled as a year-long Home Run Derby.

Bieber became just the third player to win the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet in his home park by striking out Willson Contreras, Ketel Marte and Ronald Acuna Jr. in succession to preserve a 1-0 lead in the fifth and prompt “Bieber! Bieber!” chants from Tribe fans.

“Kind of lost all feeling in my body,” Bieber said of the MVP announcement.

Though the NL made it a 4-3 game in a two-run eighth off Brad Hand, Aroldis Chapman was able to close it out in the ninth to maintain a run of dominance that extends beyond the seven-game win streak. Going back to 1997 -- the last Midsummer Classic in Cleveland -- the AL is 19-3-1. That win in 1997 began a streak of 13 straight All-Star Games without a loss for the AL (1997 through 2009), though that included a tie in 2002. The longest “uninterrupted” All-Star win streak is 11, accomplished by the NL from 1972-82.

Those were all the technical details. But this game might be remembered most and best for the stuff that won’t show in the box score.

The soul was on display at several points, such as when special guest and 19-year veteran CC Sabathia returned to his baseball “birthplace” with a ceremonial first pitch and a ninth-inning mound visit to teammate Chapman at the All-Star Game of his farewell season.

“The whole two days being here, the fan reception, the way the players have received me -- they didn’t have to treat me like an All-Star being here honorary,” Sabathia said. “It’s been a cool experience.”

There was a moment of silence for the late Tyler Skaggs, the Angels pitcher who passed away suddenly at the age of 27 last week. Mike Trout donned his No. 45 for the night.

“He always told me he wanted to be in the All-Star Game,” Trout said. “He worked hard, I thought he deserved it last year. But he would always come up and tell me, 'Hey I want to be with you there one of these times.' Obviously tonight, he's with me for sure.”

And in a tear-jerking moment in the annual Stand Up To Cancer initiative, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, who just revealed last week that he is battling leukemia, was joined by his manager, Terry Francona, and his teammates Bieber, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Brad Hand -- all of whom held “I Stand Up For” placards bearing his nickname “Cookie.”

“I think it was extremely special for me, for him, for our teammates, for Terry, and the city of Cleveland as a whole,” Bieber said. “And for him to be doing what he's doing and kind of turning it over on its head into a positive light and spending more time at the [Cleveland Clinic] Children's Hospital and spending time with kids, it's something only he would do.”

The strength was shown by Gallo and Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who might not have doubled the titanic blasts we saw from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in his 91-homer (albeit second-place) showcase in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby the night before but still offered some midsummer muscle.

And there was substance and silliness aplenty with a bunch of mic’d up ballplayers on the FOX broadcast, where we learned that Lindor made dinner reservations for an umpire, that Verlander did not honor grooved fastball requests from Freddie Freeman (“I guess I talked myself into getting a lot of off-speed pitches,” Freeman joked), and that George Springer doesn’t hit the cutoff man when he accidentally unleashes a cutter from the outfield.

In idyllic weather, in a downtown that dazzled all week, in front of a loud crowd of 36,747, the All-Star Game was a nice and tidy exhibition with emotion and entertainment aplenty.

“I thought the city of Cleveland did a fantastic job,” NL manager Dave Roberts said. “The logistics, the city, the weather, the fans -- during the game they were attentive, cheering for past and present Indians and they were just really engaged. So Major League Baseball and the city of Cleveland got it right.”