MIAMI -- During the pregame ceremonies of the 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, Robinson Cano caught a ceremonial first pitch from Juan Marichal as part of a tribute to eight Latin-born Hall of Famers. In the 10th inning on Tuesday, Cano built upon his own legacy with a home run off Wade Davis that lifted the American League to a 2-1 win over the National League.
Cano's drive to right field extended the AL's winning streak in the Midsummer Classic to five straight years. The moment also had extra meaning for Cano, a native of the Dominican Republic, because he took part in the pregame festivities.
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"It means a lot," said Cano, who earned the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. "Those guys are really, I want to say, started this game for the Latin American players. Guys that really made this game so fun and exciting, made fans come and watch, and opened the doors for us."
The NL had a shot in the 10th inning against Andrew Miller, but the Indians' reliever got some defensive help from Justin Upton. Corey Seager, last year's NL Rookie of the Year Award winner, sliced a 92.4 mph-fastball from Miller to right field, but Upton made a diving catch to record the frame's first out. Miller issued a two-out walk to Joey Votto, but Miller locked down the save by striking out Cody Bellinger.
"I'm glad I got in and got a chance to pitch well," Miller said. "It's just kind of the cherry on top for me personally. It's always a blast to be around a group like this. It's probably not something that happens too often. I don't want to take it for granted."
Brad Mills, who was serving as the AL's manager because Indians skipper Terry Francona was back home in Cleveland after undergoing a heart procedure, was thrilled with the victory.
"Nobody wants, in a game like this, to have it go too long," said Mills, who is the Indians' bench coach. "The last thing we wanted to do was get pitchers in that shouldn't probably be in the game, and risk an injury or something. So that was huge for [Cano] to come up, and besides it was a Cubs pitcher. That was kind of nice."
By holding off the NL, the AL evened the all-time series. Talk about parity. The AL and NL All-Star record is now dead-even, 43-43-2 in the all-time series. Each league also is even in runs scored, 361.
The first All-Star Game at colorful Marlins Park had its moments of drama and levity. Twice it involved Yadier Molina, the Cardinals' perennial All-Star catcher, who came off the bench and had his snapshot moments. They both occurred in the sixth inning.
In the top of the inning, Nelson Cruz came to bat with two outs, and provided a first -- asking Molina, who was in his catching crouched position, to take a photo. Cruz then posed with home-plate umpire Joe West, the longtime veteran who in June became the third umpire to be in 5,000 games. Smiling, Molina took the photo on Cruz's phone.
"I would bet if the game had counted, he would not have done that," NL manager Joe Maddon of the Cubs said. "Overall, I just thought the overall intensity of the game was very good. Right down to the very last out, both sides wanted to win that game."
Molina delivered a pop with his bat in the bottom of the sixth inning, connecting on an opposite-field homer off Ervin Santana. The drive that landed in the NL bullpen was projected by Statcast™ to have an exit velocity of 102.4 mph. It pulled the NL even at 1. Rounding the bases, Molina even got a pat on the back from AL shortstop Francisco Lindor. The two were teammates in the World Baseball Classic on Team Puerto Rico.
The AL broke through in the fifth inning on Miguel Sano's bloop, two-out single that scored Jonathan Schoop, who doubled.
Pitching prevailed the rest of the way until Cano sent everybody home.
"I got a cutter first pitch, ball," Cano said. "Cutter, foul ball, then a breaking ball and I was able to put a barrel on it and hit it out the park."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cano comes through: After Kenley Jansen stranded a runner on third in the ninth inning for the NL, Davis took over in the 10th. But three pitches into the inning, the AL regained the lead on Cano's home run that landed in the NL bullpen. Connecting on a 1-1 curveball, Cano's drive was projected by Statcast™ at 395 feet with an exit velocity of 105.6 mph. Davis has given up one home run in the past two seasons.
"I'm not too sure [on numbers against Cano], but I have faced him before," Davis said. "I pitched in 10th inning and I didn't expect us to go 10 innings, but I got in there and it was fun."
Cano knew he was in store for a tough at-bat.
"I knew I had to face Wade Davis, a guy that throws hard, cutter," Cano said. "He threw me one for a ball, and another I was like, 'Oh my God, you have to get your head out front, and be able to handle the breaking ball.' I was able to put a good swing."
Wild ninth for Kimbrel: It was a wild and bumpy ride for Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning. The hard-throwing right-hander walked Molina, who advanced to second on Gary Sanchez's passed ball. Kimbrel ended up loading the bases, but he avoided being subjected to a walk-off by striking out Michael Conforto on a 2-2 fastball clocked at 98.4 mph.
"Well, for a minute it got a little hairy, didn't it?" Kimbrel said. "We didn't think that was going to happen. I felt excited. The ball was jumping out of my hand a little bit tonight. We got through it and Cano hit that homer. It was pretty cool."
Added Sanchez on the Yankees catcher working to get in rhythm with the Red Sox closer: "Obviously, I've never caught him before, but he has a heck of a fastball, and with the slider, it breaks out and away from guys. It was a different experience, but an enjoyable experience, getting to catch him."
"I really honestly like that way. That way you are able now to joke around, it makes the game more fun, like the way it used to be before. That's what people and fans love now these days, especially joking around with social media." -- Cano, on game not deciding home field in the World Series
"That was weird, huh? It was funny, too. Weird and funny. He asked me for a picture and I was like, 'Are you serious?' He was like, 'Yeah, yeah.' So I said, 'OK.' I took two." -- Molina, on taking the photo of Cruz and West
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You weren't imagining it, the pitchers were throwing a lot harder in this year's All-Star Game. In the 2016 Midsummer Classic, the average four-seam fastball velocity was 94.8 mph. This year it was 96.5 mph, a difference of almost 2 mph. Notably, AL starter Chris Sale (Red Sox) hit 99.5 mph in the first inning; he hadn't topped 99 mph since 2015.