NL’s Elias Díaz homer Snaps All-Star Game Losing Streak, tops AL 3-2
SEATTLE (AP) — Shining brightly in the Emerald City, the National League snapped a losing streak that lasted more than a decade.
An unheralded catcher from Colorado delivered the big blow.
Elias Díaz hit a two-run homer off Félix Bautista in the eighth inning, and the NL snapped a nine-game losing streak in the All-Star Game with a 3-2 win over the American League on Tuesday night.
The NL won for the first time since an 8-0 victory in 2012 in Kansas City, and Díaz became the first Rockies player to win the All-Star MVP award.
“It feels incredible. When we all got here, we all talked about how we were going to bring home the win," said Díaz, who was non-tendered by the Pirates at the end of 2019. “I just didn’t realize it was going to be me to bring home the win.”
Díaz drove a 2-2 pitch from Baltimore's hard-throwing closer deep to left to put the NL in front. Díaz was the lone representative for Colorado in his first All-Star Game appearance.
“It does matter. We wanted to win, the American League we wanted to win,” Bautista said through an interpreter. “But overall I think that it’s an experience I’ll never forget and just wish that would have been a little bit different.”
Díaz has nine homers this season, but hadn’t hit a long ball since June 23 against the Los Angeles Angels.
“As soon as he walked in the clubhouse and I met him, he said, ‘I’ll do anything you want. If I play, I play. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m just so happy to be here,'” NL manager Rob Thomson said. “So for him to do that, it’s fantastic.”
For most of the night, the All-Star Game was a pitchers’ duel highlighted by a couple big hits and some excellent defense.
It got nervous for the NL with Philadelphia closer Craig Kimbrel on the mound in the ninth.
“I threw way more pitches than I wanted to on an off day,” Kimbrel joked.
Wander Franco led off with a fly ball to the warning track, and Kimbrel issued two-out walks to Kyle Tucker and Seattle star Julio Rodríguez.
The 22-year-old Rodríguez was in position to close it out in front of his home crowd.
“I was definitely trying to win it. But it was a situation where I had to pass the baton,” he said.
Kimbrel recovered to strike out José Ramírez to end it. Kimbrel also pitched in the previous NL win, recording two outs in 2012.
“The ninth inning in the dugout was just a lot of fun to experience,” said San Diego's Josh Hader, who pitched the eighth for the NL.
Yandy Díaz hit a solo homer in the second and Bo Bichette’s sacrifice fly in the sixth gave the AL a 2-1 lead.
J.D. Martinez doubled and scored on Luis Arraez’s single in the fourth against Seattle’s George Kirby, tying it at 1. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. appeared to tie the game again in the seventh when his shot down the left-field line was originally ruled a homer but was overturned as a foul ball on replay.
The All-Star Game returned to Seattle for the first time since 2001 when the Mariners were in the middle of their magical 116-win regular season, Cal Ripken Jr. said goodbye to the All-Star stage and Tommy Lasorda took a tumble.
Gerrit Cole became the first New York Yankees pitcher to start the All-Star Game since Roger Clemens in that 2001 game. He needed a pair of spectacular leaping catches from Adolis García and Randy Arozarena near the wall to escape the first inning unscathed.
Pitching was the story of the night. Only nine balls were hit over 100 mph. There were 20 combined strikeouts, including Camilo Doval silencing the home crowd with a strikeout of Rodríguez in the seventh inning when four of the five pitches topped 100 mph.
“You can tell, our guys, we wanted to win. They wanted to win," AL manager Dusty Baker said. “There was a lot of pride out there and a lot of competitiveness out there. You could tell by the energy on both sides and the energy in the ballpark.”
The All-Star Game was missing some big names with Mike Trout and Aaron Judge out with injuries, but it still had Shohei Ohtani.
The Angels star drew the biggest cheers outside of Seattle’s three representatives during introductions, and he was serenaded with chants of “Come to Seattle” when he was at the plate. The crowd apparently was well aware of his pending free agency this offseason.
Toronto reliever Jordan Romano left in the seventh after throwing the pitch that Gurriel hit foul and was originally ruled fair. He threw five pitches before leaving the game with tightness in his back.
Chicago White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. did not play after feeling tightness in his right calf during the Home Run Derby. The White Sox said Robert underwent an MRI in Seattle and is listed as day to day.
The Rangers made All-Star history when Nathan Eovaldi took the mound in the second. That marked the third time in an All-Star Game when there were six players from the same team on the field at the same time. It also occurred with the 1939 Yankees and 1951 Dodgers.
The Baseball Hall of Fame said a ball signed by all six players in the game would be headed to Cooperstown.
“That’s got to be one of the cooler moments in sports when you’ve got half the team on the field is your team, especially under these circumstances,” catcher Jonah Heim said. “It’s really special and I was glad I got to share it with these guys today.”
The Tampa Bay duo of Shane McClanahan and Wander Franco were inadvertently skipped over during pregame introductions. The pair jogged in on their own and left it to the Rays’ social media staff to give them a proper announcement.
Six of the eight members of Seattle’s All-Star contingent from the 2001 game were recognized pregame. John Olerud, Bret Boone, Freddy Garcia, Jeff Nelson, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Edgar Martinez and manager Lou Piniella were honored. Ichiro Suzuki and Mike Cameron were also on the All-Star team that season.
Baseball Hall of Famers Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitches to former teammates Dan Wilson and Jay Buhner.
The post-All-Star break portion of the schedule starts Friday with every team in the league scheduled to be in action. San Diego at Philadelphia is the first game scheduled for Friday. The second half begins with Atlanta having the best record in baseball at 60-29 and an 8½-game lead in the NL East. Tampa Bay has the best record in the American League at 58-35, two games better than Baltimore.