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Red Sox soak in ASG camaraderie, excitement

Boston's skipper guides American League to victory in Cleveland
@IanMBrowne
July 10, 2019

For the Red Sox who represented the American League at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game presented by Mastercard in Cleveland, it was a final honor to commemorate the World Series championship season of 2018. Manager Alex Cora and his entire coaching staff ran the show in a 4-3 victory for the

For the Red Sox who represented the American League at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game presented by Mastercard in Cleveland, it was a final honor to commemorate the World Series championship season of 2018.

Manager Alex Cora and his entire coaching staff ran the show in a 4-3 victory for the AL.

“It was amazing,” said Cora. “As a baseball fan you just sit there and listen to them talk in the dugout and [share] thoughts and just talking the game. That's what it's all about. Overall, it's one of the best baseball experiences I've ever had in my life.”

Three key players in Boston’s championship efforts last season participated in the game.

J.D. Martinez was the starting DH and launched a fly ball to deep left in his first at-bat in the bottom of the second, but it was flagged down just in front of the wall by Brewers star Christian Yelich. Martinez struck out in his other at-bat on a wicked changeup from Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo.

Xander Bogaerts came off the bench in the bottom of the seventh and hit a rocket (104.6 mph exit velocity) toward the middle, but it was scooped up by Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong, who fed to the Dodgers’ Max Muncy for a 6-4-3 double play.

Mookie Betts, last year’s AL Most Valuable Player, replaced Bogaerts in the eighth spot in the batting order and played the final two innings in right field. He didn’t get an at-bat.

“There were other guys that we wanted to play. There were a lot of first-timers,” said Cora. “And we kind of like mapped it out. And he was going to come up in the ninth. It just happened that we won the game.”

In a classy move, Cora had Yankees veteran CC Sabathia visit teammate Aroldis Chapman on the mound with two outs in the ninth. That allowed the fans in Cleveland to roar for the former Indian, who is retiring at the end of the season.

“It was recognizing that he's one of the best pitchers in the big leagues for the last, what, 15 years? The guy has won more than 250 games, 3,000 strikeouts,” said Cora. “Everything started here in Cleveland. We all know he's going to retire, so we wanted to let everybody know who he is and I think it was a nice tribute.”

For Bogaerts, getting to experience the All-Star festivities, including Tuesday’s parade through the streets of Cleveland, for the second time in his career was a thrill.

“It was good,” Bogaerts said. “A lot of people came out. A lot of fans cheering on.”

Though Betts didn’t participate in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, he will never forget watching it.

“It was super cool. Just seeing how young the whole field was,” said Betts. “It was a blessing to be a part of and it goes to show you that there’s a lot of young talent.”

For Martinez, the best part was the camaraderie with people he is used to competing against.

“You spend all year competing against these guys,” Martinez said. “When you’re on the same team, you actually get to talk and know the person and that’s how you build friendships. The next time you play against those guys, it’s like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ You get to know the person. You only see the action on TV, or what they do on TV or when you play against them, but when you’re in the locker room with them, it’s different.”

With the festivities behind them -- not to mention a lengthy journey that took them to London, Toronto and Detroit before arriving in Cleveland in the rearview mirror as well -- Cora and his All-Star coaches and players will head back to Boston for a three-game showdown with the Dodgers that starts Friday night.

The Red Sox are nine games out in the AL East, but just two behind the Indians for the second Wild Card spot.

“You never know what can happen in this second half,” Martinez said. “We’re two games back and we’ve put ourselves in good position to make a run in the second half. We haven’t gotten hot yet, I don’t think.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.