Visiting National League holds on for tight one-run victory in 11th AYL All-Star Game.
Cleveland, Ohio was the setting for the AYL's 11th Mid-Summer Classic. Indians' fans were excited to see four of their own players represented in the game with Oscar Gamble starting in the outfield, and Graig Nettles, Travis Hafner, and Sam McDowell also making appearances.
Roger Maris drove in two runs for the N.L. who now lead the Mid-Summer Classic Series 8 wins to 3
The fans were boisterous throughout the pre-game ceremonies, which included Huey Lewis singing "Heart of Rock and Roll" (although with the voice and hearing issues he's struggled with lately, it wasn't his best performance), Drew Carey doing some stand-up comedy which culminated in giving away a couple of cars in a hilarious Price Is Right spoof, and Tracy Chapman singing the National Anthem.
The game itself started with a big bang as D.J. LeMahieu blasted the 3rd pitch he saw from Jack Chesbro over the wall in left-centerfield for a quick 1-0 lead for the visiting National League. Chesbro settled in after that and retired the next three batters to get out of the first. In the bottom half of the first, Bob Ojeda got Chuck Knoblauch to ground out to start the inning, but then gave up singles to Brian Roberts and Gamble. Ojeda then got Babe Ruth to strike out on a beautiful curve ball with a full count, and then escaped any damage by retiring Chili Davis on a fly out to shallow centerfield.
Both Chesbro and Ojeda got through the second innings giving up just one hit apiece before handing the ball to the bullpen for the rest of the game.
In the 3rd, LeMahieu got his second hit of the game, a one-out double off Ron Guidry, but failed to score as Guidry escaped by striking out John Vander Wal and then getting Lou Gehrig to ground out sharply to 3rd Baseman Scott Brosius.
The home team struggled mightily at the plate through the early and middle innings, unable to do anything with the bat. In fact, N.L. pitchers retired an amazing 16 A.L. hitters in a row from part-way through the 2nd inning all the way to the 7th inning when pinch-hitter Travis Hafner finally broke the spell with a one-out double. The streak included Ojeda (3 outs in the 2nd), Luis Severino (a perfect 3rd), Pascual Perez (a perfect 4th), Jim Bouton (a perfect 5th), Kirby Yates with two straight outs in the 6th, Chad Green with the third out in the 6th, and Andrew Miller who retired one in the 7th before giving up the double to Hafner.
By the time the 6th inning rolled around, the Cleveland fans were getting restless, starting various chants, including "A.L. Sucks!", "We Suck!", "Browns Suck!" and even "Cleveland Sucks!"
The visitors added a run in the top of the 4th against Sam McDowell to go up 2-0. Roger Maris hit a one-out double, moved to 3rd on a single by Morgan Ensberg, and scored on a double by Yogi Berra. Ensberg was stranded at 3rd when Troy Tulowitzki struck out to end the inning.
In the 6th, the N.L. made it 3-0 as the same trio struck again, this time with Mike Mussina on the mound. Maris singled to lead off the inning. After Jack Clark struck out, Ensberg singled and Maris was able to reach 3rd on the play. Yogi then hit a deep fly ball to right field, scoring Maris.
In the bottom of the 7th, when the A.L. finally broke their hitless streak, they actually rallied to push across a couple of runs to cut the N.L. lead to just a single run at 3-2. Tony Clark hit that one-out double to break the curse, and then John Olerud singled him over to 3rd. Olerud went to 2nd on a passed ball, and then both runners scored on a Joe DiMaggio single to right. Raul Valdes managed to end the threat by getting Wade Boggs to pop out to shortstop Derek Jeter.
Cory Wade mowed the A.L. batters down in the 8th inning, and Buddy Carlyle finished the game by retiring 3 of the 4 batters he faced in the 9th, giving up a lone single to Hafner. A weak Jorge Posada ground out to Tony Lazzeri ended the contest and basically epitomized the A.L.'s forgettable day at the plate. The visitors outhit the home team 14-7, and even though the final score was 3-2, it never really seemed like the A.L. was in the game.
The MVP Award was given to Roger Maris, who finished the game going 2 for 3 with a double, a single and two runs scored.
The N.L. now holds a commanding lead in the Mid-Summer Classic Series, having won 8 games against only 3 for the A.L.
Next year, the game will be held in Flushing, New York at Citi Field, home of the Amazin' Mets.
For more info on the game, please contact your usually-friendly Commish.
Good luck in the 2nd Half, everyone!