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Astros' fingerprints all over AL All-Stars' win

With Hinch managing and Altuve starting at 2B, MVP Bregman, Springer hit clutch HRs
July 18, 2018

There were Astros everywhere.Everyone from American League starting second baseman Jose Altuve to AL manager AJ Hinch to Astros bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte was in use throughout Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Nationals Park, a thrilling 8-6 win for the AL."It's special today," Altuve said. "It was about

There were Astros everywhere.
Everyone from American League starting second baseman Jose Altuve to AL manager AJ Hinch to Astros bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte was in use throughout Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Nationals Park, a thrilling 8-6 win for the AL.
"It's special today," Altuve said. "It was about the All-Star Game, and all the coaching staff deserves to be here because of what we did last year. We won the World Series."
For the second consecutive year, the defending World Series champions had six All-Stars in the Midsummer Classic, sprinkling as much of an Astros flare on Nationals Park as any other club in baseball.
If the Astros hadn't done enough to be recognized through nine innings of Tuesday's game featuring baseball's best, check the 10th inning. First-time All-Star Alex Bregman and George Springer, a two-timer, smashed back-to-back homers to break a tie in the 10th against Dodgers reliever Thomas Stripling.
Sound familiar?
"Kind of gave me a little bit of a flashback," Hinch said, referring to the Astros' clutch homers vs. Dodgers pitching in last year's World Series.

"Just an incredible two years for the Houston Astros," Bregman said. "It's been a blast."
Springer was named the Most Valuable Player for the 2017 World Series, but this time, the 24-year-old Bregman won the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet, then gave the Camaro he won to his mother. It's the first time -- and seventh time in history -- that a team has had the World Series MVP followed by the All-Star Game MVP the next year since the Royals in 2015-16, when Salvador Perez won the honors at the Fall Classic and Eric Hosmer shined at the Midsummer Classic.

Because of their starts Saturday and Sunday in Houston, Gerrit Cole and Astros ace Justin Verlander did not pitch in the game. Altuve's start at second was confirmed when he became the first Astros player in franchise history to lead all Major Leaguers in fan voting.
Under Hinch's direction in the AL dugout, Springer entered as a reserve in his second consecutive All-Star appearance, while Bregman and Charlie Morton made their debuts in the later innings.
Two days after Verlander's start Sunday against the Tigers, Hinch selected Chris Sale as the AL's starting pitcher, with Altuve protecting his native second base for the first five innings.
Altuve whiffed on 98.2-mph filth from National League starter Max Scherzer in the first inning. The fiery heat registered as one of Scherzer's fastest pitches of the season, according to Statcast™.
The reigning AL Most Valuable Player popped out in the third inning against Mets ace Jacob deGrom before breaking through with his first All-Star hit in his sixth appearance, lacing a single in the fifth inning off the Phillies' Aaron Nola.

"It feels great," Altuve said. "After my six All-Star Games, I finally got a hit. I got that out of the way and it feels good."
Altuve, 28, was 0-for-9 in All-Star Games before his knock, a surprising stat from one of baseball's premier hitters. Springer even tracked down Altuve's ball for historical storage -- a memento Altuve immediately stashed in his All-Star locker and, obviously, intends to keep.
"Yeah, it felt weird," Altuve said. "It felt like I got my first big league hit, something like that. It was something I'd never done before, a hit in the All-Star Game, but like I said, it feels good."
Morton, the Astros' 34-year-old right-hander, entered to pitch the seventh inning in his first All-Star Game appearance. It was a special outing just two years after tearing his hamstring while with the Phillies. Morton joined the Astros before the 2017 season and closed out Game 7 of the World Series last fall.
In his two innings, Morton allowed solo homers to Rockies shortstop Trevor Story in the seventh and Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich in the eighth.

Mariners shortstop Jean Segura's three-run homer in the top of the eighth had Morton, who posted 11 wins before the All-Star break, in line for the win before the Reds' Scooter Gennett hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings. That's when Bregman and Springer took over.
"He's going to enjoy it for a long time," Springer said of Bregman's blast.

"He's had an incredible two years as well," Bregman said of Springer with his MVP trophy in hand. "World Series MVP, 2-for-2 tonight with a big homer -- so I'm so happy for him and the Houston Astros."
The Astros now have the reigning AL MVP, World Series MVP and All-Star Game MVP in their own clubhouse.
What's next?

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for