15 wild facts from the 91st All-Star Game

July 14th, 2021

At this point, the “A” in All-Star Game might as well stand for “American League.”

The AL continued its recent dominance of the event on Tuesday night at Denver’s Coors Field, defeating the NL, 5-2, in the first Midsummer Classic since 2019. The victory was the AL’s eighth in a row going back to 2013, which ties for the third-longest All-Star win streak in history. The only ones longer were an 11-win run by the NL from 1972-82 and a 12-win run by the AL from 1997-2009 (not counting a tie in 2002).

So that’s two sustained AL streaks in the past few decades, which points to just how thoroughly the so-called “Junior Circuit” has owned the All-Star Game during the lifetimes of its current participants. While the AL went 20-37-1 in the first 58 editions, it has roared back to go 26-6-1 over the past 33. The AL now holds a 46-43-2 edge all-time, with a thin run differential of plus-6.

Here are 15 more facts to know about Tuesday’s mile-high festivities.

Vlad takes flight
• In the third inning, extended the AL lead to 2-0 by demolishing a hanging slider from Corbin Burnes to left field, nearly reaching the Coors Field concourse. The 110.2 mph, 468-foot bomb was the longest (by 58 feet) in any All-Star Game since Statcast began tracking in 2015. (Kris Bryant set the previous record of 410 feet in 2016). It also was longer than any homer Guerrero has hit in game action, where his high is 465 feet on May 16 this year.

• At 22 years and 119 days old, Guerrero became the youngest player in All-Star Game history to win the game’s MVP Award, which began in 1962. The previous youngest was Ken Griffey Jr. in 1992, at 22 years and 236 days old.

• Guerrero’s home run is not the first from his family in an All-Star Game. Vlad Sr. homered in 2006, off Brad Penny. The Guerreros join the Bonds (Barry and Bobby) and Griffey (Ken Sr. and Jr.) pairings as the only father-son combos to each homer in at least one All-Star Game.

• At 22 years and 119 days old, Guerrero became the youngest player to homer in his All-Star Game debut, breaking a record set by Cardinals star Joe Medwick (22 years, 228 days) way back in 1934 -- the second All-Star Game ever played. He’s also the second-youngest player to homer in a Midsummer Classic overall, behind only Johnny Bench in 1969 -- who was 21 years and 228 days old -- in his second All-Star Game.

Ohtani does it all
• The biggest storyline coming in? That would be Angels two-way sensation , who became the first player to start an All-Star Game as both a hitter and a pitcher, while joining countryman Hideo Nomo (1995) as the only Japanese-born pitchers to open an All-Star Game on the mound. Ohtani grounded out to the right side twice at the plate, but dazzled more with a perfect 1-2-3 first inning on the mound.

• The highlight of Ohtani’s pitching appearance came when he hit 100.2 mph on the radar gun delivering a fastball to hometown favorite Nolan Arenado. Ohtani joined Chris Sale (2018) as the only starting pitchers to hit triple digits in an All-Star Game under Statcast tracking.

• Though Ohtani was done pitching hours before the AL recorded its final out, he still earned the win as the leading pitcher in a game in which the Junior Circuit never trailed. One more piece of history for the Angels’ phenom.

Catchers show their power
homered to get the NL on the board, marking the first time any Phillies player had hit an All-Star Game home run since Mike Schmidt in 1981. According to YES Network’s James Smyth, that was the longest active streak of any team not having homered in the Midsummer Classic entering Tuesday.

• Then, in the top of the next inning, the Rays’ , also a catcher, homered for the AL. This marks just the third time that two catchers have homered in the same All-Star Game, along with 1997, with Javy Lopez and Sandy Alomar Jr., and 1969, with Johnny Bench and Bill Freehan.

• Zunino’s 433-footer and Realmuto’s 430-footer are now the second- and third-longest All-Star Game homers of the Statcast Era, after Guerrero’s.

Odds and ends
• Nationals ace and three-time Cy Young Award winner threw the opening frame of the night, marking the fourth All-Star Game start of his incredible career. Scherzer joined Robin Roberts (five starts), Lefty Gomez (five), Don Drysdale (five), Jim Palmer (four) and Randy Johnson (four) as the sixth pitcher to make at least four Midsummer Classic starts.

After a clean first inning, Scherzer’s career All-Star Game ERA now sits at 1.29 (one earned run allowed across seven innings).

• The highest-leverage moment of the night came in the bottom of the eighth, when Kris Bryant came up with the bases loaded, two outs and the NL trailing by three. Bryant flared a sinking liner to left that looked as if it could hit the grass, but Angels slugger snagged it with a clutch sliding catch.

It was a slick catch, made more remarkable considering that Tuesday was Walsh’s first appearance in the Majors as a left fielder. He played 17 games in left as a Minor Leaguer, but had only appeared at first base and right field (along with some mop-up pitching appearances) as a big leaguer before making the All-Star Game’s biggest defensive play in left.

• Ohtani, as mentioned above, got the pitching win for the AL. White Sox closer and Australian native got the save. That marked the second consecutive All-Star Game in which a league’s winning pitcher and save-getter were both born outside the United States, following former Yankee teammates Masahiro Tanaka and Aroldis Chapman in 2019.

• Guerrero, Ohtani and Hendriks all shined in roles their respective clubs are relatively new to on All-Star night. Guerrero is the first Blue Jays player to win the game’s MVP award. Ohtani is just the second Angels pitcher to earn an All-Star win, following Brendan Donnelly in 2003. And Hendriks is the first White Sox pitcher to earn an All-Star Game save since that statistic became official in 1969.

• The NL squad struck out just three times on the night, the fewest by either league in an All-Star Game since the AL was punched out three times in 2009. The AL struck out 12 times Tuesday, but outhomered the Senior Circuit, 2-1, in the winning effort.