WASHINGTON -- The 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard was filled with thrills and chills and spills, and the final few innings might have been as good as the Midsummer Classic has ever been.Go ahead and quibble about Three True Outcomes if you must because this All-Star Game definitely had
WASHINGTON -- The 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard was filled with thrills and chills and spills, and the final few innings might have been as good as the Midsummer Classic has ever been.
Go ahead and quibble about Three True Outcomes if you must because this All-Star Game definitely had those: 10 home runs, 25 strikeouts and nine walks.
"Standard operation nowadays, right?" American League manager AJ Hinch quipped.
Ask yourself this: Was it entertaining? Was it exciting? Did the players wearing microphones and taking selfies and the managers letting us in on their discussions and the sheer joy of the players add something? Sure, it did. The AL's 8-6 victory over the National League on Tuesday night at Nationals Park was ridiculously good.
"I think it's cool how MLB let us have our phones, just going out there and being able to take a picture was really cool," Michael Trout said.
Did we mention that the final three innings were pretty good? That's when 10 of the 14 runs were scored and six of the 10 home runs were hit. Jean Segura homered for the AL in the top of the eighth. Christian Yelich responded in the bottom of the inning. Scooter Gennett's homer tied it in the bottom of the ninth. Alex Bregman and George Springer answered for the AL in the top of the 10th. This was the first time any game (regular season, All-Star or postseason) featured five players homering for each side.
Let's review the seven best moments of a cool, beautiful evening in the nation's capital:
1. Houston's rockets
Back to the one moment that ought to define everything: that would be the smiles. In the top of the 10th inning, a pair of Houston Astros, Bregman (who was the All-Star MVP) and Springer (who was the 2017 World Series MVP), hit back-to-back home runs to get the lead back for the AL. They both were wearing wide grins when they returned to the dugout, where they were greeted by bear hugs, slaps on the back and showers of sunflower seeds, water and who knows what else?
2. Harper pays Trout the ultimate compliment
When FOX's Joe Buck asked Bryce Harper, playing center field early in the game, if he agreed that Trout was the best player on the planet, Harper spoke for the entire baseball world: "If you don't know that, you haven't been keeping up." As Bregman would clarify later: "Mike Trout's on another planet."
3. Segura and Gennett play "Can you top this?"
Segura's three-run homer off Josh Hader in the eighth inning looked like it would be the difference, and it came one pitch after Joey Votto dropped a popup near the dugout railing. Segura punctuated his blast with a point to the dugout and an epic bat flip as the AL took a 5-2 lead.
An inning later, Gennett seemingly bailed out Votto, his Reds teammate, with a dramatic game-tying two-run homer off of Edwin Diaz, Segura's fellow Mariner, to send the All-Star Game into extra innings for the second straight year.
4. Altuve ends his "slump"
When Jose Altuve singled in the top of the fifth inning, it was his first hit in 10 career at-bats in the All-Star Game. As he rounded first base, he broke into a huge smile that only got wider when he saw that his Astros teammate, Springer, had asked for the baseball. Normally, singles in the fifth inning do not become souvenirs. Springer, though, wanted to preserve the moment and maybe, you know, rib his buddy a bit. "I'm happy they're happy because I finally got my hit," Altuve said.
5. Matt and Manny's photo op
Did you catch Orioles (for now) shortstop Manny Machado posing for a selfie with Matt Kemp? That one lit up social media, for sure. If reports are correct -- and if there are no last-minute holdups -- they'll be teammates as early as Wednesday after a Machado-to-the-Dodgers trade is completed. Machado seemed emotional to be wearing the O's uniform for the final time and also excited about the new world he's about to enter.
6. JV's bold prediction
In the AL dugout, Justin Verlander loudly predicted Judge's second-inning home run off Max Scherzer. "I was getting ready to go hit and Verlander goes, 'I've got a really good feeling, man. I think you're gonna hit a homer this at-bat, so just get ready,'" Judge said. "That first one I fouled off, was just like, there's no chance with the way Scherzer was throwing it. But I was able to get that second one. It was a pretty cool moment."
7. Happ gets his first save
Hinch showed why players love playing for him when he was asked his reaction to Gennett's game-tying home run. "My first thought was directed right at J.A. Happ," Hinch said. Happ is a former Astros pitcher who made friends throughout the organization during his three seasons with the team (2010-12, before Hinch arrived).
Hinch told Happ, now with the Blue Jays, before the game he didn't know if he'd get him into his first All-Star Game. For players in their first All-Star Game at 35, it's a special thing.
"I was thrilled for a veteran like J.A. Happ who has waited so long for this stage," Hinch said.
Happ has pitched in 272 regular-season games and never gotten a save. But he did Tuesday night.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.