Papelbon Earns Win As AL Claims All-Star Game

Papelbon Earns Win As AL Claims All-Star Game Make it 13 in a row.

The American League continued its dominance of baseball’s All-Star
Game on Tuesday night, defeating the National League 4-3 in St. Louis
to remain unbeaten in the Midsummer Classic since 1996.

The AL ran into some early trouble defensively, leading to three
runs for the NL squad in two innings against Toronto starter Roy
Halladay, but the bullpen behind Halladay was absolutely stellar,
retiring 21 of 23 NL hitters in the final seven innings, including 18
in a row at one point.

The Red Sox’ Jonathan Papelbon earned the win for the AL All-Stars,
pitching the bottom of the seventh inning before the Tigers’ Curtis
Granderson broke through with the go-ahead run in the eighth, tripling
with one out and later scoring to make it a 4-3 ballgame. Mariano
Rivera earned the save.

The Rays’ Carl Crawford earned MVP honors for the game, thanks in
large part to a game-saving catch he made in the seventh inning,
robbing the Rockies’ Brad Hawpe of a home run.

At under three hours, the contest was the shortest All-Star Game played in baseball since 1988.

Final: American League 4, National League 3.

Rivera closes it out for the AL as he’s done three times before,
getting a groundout, a strikeout and a popup to quickly retire the
4-5-6 hitters in the NL order. Rivera gets the save and Papelbon the
win — the AL wins it in remarkable fashion.

Middle 9th: Francisco Rodriguez lives up to his
nickname, with K-Rod recording a K of Carl Crawford, and Justin Morneau
also fails to tack on any insurance runs for the AL squad, hitting on
deep to left-center but not deep enough – Jayson Werth tracks it down.

Time for the ninth – as expected, Mo will come on to close things out.

End 8th, 4-3 AL: Nathan snaps the streak of 18
straight NL batters retired by the AL pitching staff, but the Twins
hurler still survives the eighth inning. After a walk and an infield
single, the NL has two runners on with two out for pinch-hitter Ryan Howard, but Nathan bears down and strikes out Howard to end the eighth.

Three outs away from home-field advantage, AL fans.

Middle 8th, 4-3 AL: Looks like the winning streak is in good shape.

The AL breaks through against Heath Bell in the
eighth inning, with Granderson legging out a one-out triple to put a
man in scoring position, and Adam Jones hitting yet another deep fly
ball to the warning track in right, plenty deep enough for a sac fly to
score Granderson.

The AL is now six outs away from remaining unbeaten through 13 consecutive All-Star Games — and with Joe Nathan coming in to pitch the eighth with Mariano Rivera available in the bullpen to close things out, the team appears to be in good shape.

End 7th, 3-3: How weird is it seeing Jonathan Papelbon take the mound in the seventh inning? Very weird, I say.

Papelbon gets the job done for the AL — but with more than a little help from Carl Crawford,
who makes the catch of the year in left field. Crawford acrobatically
leaps to the top of the wall in left-center, robbing Brad Hawpe of a
home run with an astounding catch.

As 1-2-3 innings go, it’s an eventful one for Papelbon.

Middle 7th, 3-3: Looks like the closer rush is getting underway; the Reds’ Francisco Cordero pitches the seventh for the NL, and he puts the AL down 1-2-3.

End 6th, 3-3: Half an inning after Adam Jones hits one to the warning track in right, Orlando Hudson comes back with a fly ball to the exact same spot — only this time, it’s Jones who’s there to catch it. Ironic…

Pujols follows with an easy groundout to short, and pinch-hitter Justin Upton grounds out as well.

Not a good night for the hometown hero — Pujols finishes the night
0-for-3 at the plate before leaving in favor of new first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

10:14 p.m.: Subs start flooding in for the AL All-Stars: Justin Morneau will enter the game to play first base, Jason Bartlett will play short, Curtis Granderson will play center field, and Victor Martinez jumps in behind the plate. Felix Hernandez is on the mound to pitch the bottom of the sixth.

Middle 6th, 3-3: Adam Jones gives the senior
circuit a scare, hitting a deep fly ball to the warning track in right
field, but Hawpe tracks it down — nothing but a long out.

Josh Hamilton follows with a single, but teammate Michael Young
squelches any chance of a rally, grounding into a 4-6-3 double play to
end the threat.

End 5th, 3-3: Wow. Four pitches from Jackson, three
outs from the NL All-Stars. A one-pitch at-bat for Molina, two for
Zimmerman, and one for Hanley.

Talk about a fast inning.

Middle 5th, 3-3: Some superb defense from the NL
infield keeps a small AL rally from becoming a big one — first Chase
Utley makes a beautiful stab of a grounder into the hole by Ichiro,
throwing to second for a nice fielder’s choice, and then Pujols makes a
diving stop of a hard grounder from Jeter, also getting the lead runner
at second in a fielder’s choice.

For Pujols, it’s redemption for the costly error that put the AL on the scoreboard in the first.

But with two on and one out, Mauer doubles to left field, scoring Jeter with the tying run.

The Tigers’ Edwin Jackson will pitch the bottom of the fifth inning for the AL.

9:57 p.m.: In come the backups. Chad Billingsley takes the mound to pitch the fifth; Charlie Manuel also sends Ryan Braun out to play left field, Brad Hawpe to play right and Ryan Zimmerman to play third.

End 4th, 3-2 NL: Zack Greinke (it was only a matter
of time before the real ace of the AL took the mound, right?) pitches
the fourth for the junior circuit. Greinke sets the NL down 1-2-3,
getting a foul popout from Raul Ibanez before striking out David Wright looking and Shane Victorino swinging.

Middle 4th, 3-2 NL: Michael Young breaks up a streak of nine straight AL hitters retired, hitting a first-pitch single off of Dan Haren with
two outs in the fourth. Haren recovers and gets Aaron Hill to ground
out to short, making it three straight goose eggs for the NL pitching
staff.

End 3rd, 3-2 NL: No pitcher in baseball works
faster than Buehrle — especially when Buehrle needs just nine pitches
to get out of the inning. Utley, Pujols and Braun go down in order
quickly.

Middle 3rd, 3-2 NL: Cardinals reliever Ryan Franklin
enters to pitch the third inning for the NL, and much to the hometown
fans’ delight, he shuts down the 2-3-4 hitters in the AL order.
Groundout, lineout, groundout for Jeter, Mauer and Teixeira
respectively.

Looks like Mark Buehrle will pitch the bottom of the third for the AL squad.

End 2nd, 3-2 NL: More defensive miscues, this time from the junior circuit. Hometown catcher Yadier Molina
hits a routine single up the middle with two on and two out, but
Hamilton’s throw from center to third base is off the mark, hitting Shane Victorino as he slides into the bag. The throw rolls away and Victorino scores along with David Wright; the NL then tacks on another tally with an RBI ground-rule double from Home Run Derby champion Prince Fielder.

Line for Halladay: Three runs, all earned, on four hits in two innings.

Middle 2nd, 2-0 AL: First of all — how did nobody
pack Roy Halladay a batting helmet for the trip to St. Louis? You’d
think that would be someone’s job in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse. Somebody
dropped the ball on that one.

Easy second inning for Lincecum, who gets Aaron Hill to ground out to short before striking out Halladay and getting Ichiro Suzuki to line out to right.

Wait a minute… Aaron Hill? Doesn’t he have a Blue Jays batting helmet? What’s the matter, two teammates can’t share?

End 1st, 2-0 AL: Much better first inning for the AL defensively than the NL — Michael Young makes
a nice play at third base to snare a grounder and throw out Albert
Pujols, and Halladay is out of the first inning without breaking a
sweat. Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley and Pujols — that’s quite a 1-2-3 inning.

Middle 1st, 2-0 AL: Not a good start for the All-Star of honor. Pujols makes a crucial error in the first inning, booting an easy grounder from Mark Teixeira with two on and one out. Fellow Yankee Derek Jeter scores with the game’s first run, after which a Jason Bay single and Josh Hamilton fielder’s choice produce another AL run.

Count it — two runs, only one earned, on two hits for the AL All-Stars against Lincecum.

8:42 p.m.: Very impressive first pitch from President Barack Obama, hitting ceremonial catcher Albert Pujols with what I believe is a perfect strike.

Far cry from Mark Wahlberg, eh?

1:00 p.m.: If you’re a fan of any of the American
League’s 14 teams, you have to like the fact that the All-Star Game
decides home-field advantage for the World Series.

The junior circuit is 11-0-1 in its last 12 Midsummer Classics, an
unbeaten streak that will be on the line when the two leagues face off
on Tuesday night. The 2009 All-Star Game, the first held in St. Louis
since 1966, is set for 8:05 p.m. ET.

San Francisco Giants stud youngster Tim Lincecum gets the ball for manager Charlie Manuel’s All-Stars; Toronto Blue Jays veteran Roy Halladay will take the mound for Joe Maddon’s AL squad. Both pride and home-field will be on the line when the NL team goes for its first midsummer win since 1996.

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