Prince Fielder blasted a three-run homer and Brian Wilson pitched the final out as the National League (NL) beat the American League (AL) 5-1 to win the All-Star game and claim home field in the World Series.
Fielder was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the game after becoming the first Milwaukee Brewers player to homer in a Major League Baseball All-Star game.
“The home run helped us win,” Fielder said. “I fouled one pitch off my foot and that kind of hurt.”
The World Series advantage could come back to help the Brewers, who are tied with St Louis for first place in the standings.
“Home field is great and we play great when we are at home. So if we are fortunate to get into World Series, it will help up,” Fielder said. “I won the MVP and we got home field advantage. It is cool. I am happy I was able to be here and glad my kids and my wife are here too. Great time.”
Starter Roy Halladay and his relievers combined for a six hitter for the NL, which won for the second consecutive year.
Pitcher Tyler Clippard got the victory as the only blemish for the NL aces was a home run Cliff Lee gave up to Adrian Gonzalez in front of a crowd of 47,994 at Chase Field.
There was a health scare even before the start of the game as Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett warmed up, but then bowed out with a sore knee. Detroit Tiger batter Miguel Cabrera also went to the dressing room with a sore side.
Prior to the game, the mid-season showcase was known more for who didn’t show up than who did. Many of the 16 players who decided to skip the event were voted in by the fans and the list of missing includes a who’s who of US baseball, like Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.
US baseball is trying to emerge from a scandal-plagued “steroids era” and headway is being made as scoring in the first half of this year’s season has sunk to its lowest level in 19 years.
The players even look smaller and the MLB batting average has dropped to its lowest mid-season figure since 1985.
Andre Ethier and Pablo Sandoval also drove in runs for the NL, but the game will be remembered for brilliant pitching more than anything else.
Wilson’s appearance in the final inning was brief, but he accomplished what was asked of him and that was get the final out.
“This never gets old,” Wilson said. “It was tremendous. It is beneficial to have those first two games of the World Series in front of the home crowd.”
Toronto’s Jose Bautista showed he is more than just a slugger as he made the catch of the day, sliding in foul territory in the right-field corner to snare a shot from batter Brian McCann.
Even though the NL won for just the fifth time in 24 years, it holds a 42-38-2 overall advantage.
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