The American League (AL) ended a string of three All-Star game defeats and paid tribute to reliever Mariano Rivera in beating the National League 3-0 on Tuesday to earn home-field advantage for this year’s World Series.
After losing the past three Midsummer Classics by an aggregate of 16-2, Miguel Cabrera and Adam Jones ripped lead-off doubles that led to runs in the fourth and fifth innings, while Jason Kipnis doubled home another in the eighth.
Rivera was named the All-Star MVP, with Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox throwing two innings to earn the win as 10 AL pitchers combined on a three-hitter.
Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the third of eight National League pitchers, took the loss.
Yankee closer Rivera provided an emotional highlight when he entered from the bullpen to pitch the bottom of the eighth.
The 43-year-old, Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader, who is retiring at the end of the season, was met with a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Citi Field.
“I said to the players before the game, I’m not a motivational speaker, but my motivation tonight is to work our fannies off and bring in the greatest closer of all time,” AL manager Jim Leyland said.
With his AL teammates staying by the dugout to give Rivera a solitary moment, the closer doffed his cap in each direction to acknowledge the cheering fans before ending his 13th All-Star appearance by turning in a familiar one-two-three inning.
“It’s been a wonderful night,” said Rivera, who was presented with a blue Corvette Stingray as MVP. “When I got to the mound, I see both sides, both teams on the dugout, and it was amazing. It almost made me cry, too. I was close.”
Victory was assured as American League bats came to life after a long drought.
The American League managed to snap a 17-inning All-Star scoreless streak when Cabrera came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Jose Bautista off Corbin in the fourth.
The previous tally for the AL All-Stars had come in the fourth inning of the 2011 game in Arizona, which the National League won 5-1 before registering an 8-0 drubbing last year.
AL hitters went right back to work in the fifth against Cliff Lee. Adam Jones ripped a double to left, took third on a ground single to left by Joe Mauer and scored on a grounder by Orioles teammate J.J. Hardy.
Another double delivered the AL’s third run in the eighth inning when Jason Kipnis hammered a Craig Kimbrel pitch that short-hopped the wall in left to drive home Salvador Perez.
This time, it was National League batters that struggled.
The first 10 NL hitters were set down in order by starter Scherzer and Chris Sale of the White Sox, before Felix Hernandez yielded a ground single to left by Carlos Beltran with one out in the fourth.
Wright singled to left in the seventh and Paul Goldschmidt doubled in the ninth for the NL’s only other hits.
Memorable moments for the home-field Mets fans came early on in the game.
Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who in 1970 became the first Mets pitcher to start an All-Star game, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
The competitive first pitch was tossed by the Mets’ 24-year-old starter Matt Harvey, the youngest All-Star starter since Mets hurler Dwight “Doc” Gooden, who was 23 in the 1988 game.
Harvey gave up a double to Mike Trout with his first pitch of the game and then hit Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano with a 154kph fastball just above the knee. Cano came out of the game as a precaution, but X-rays were negative.
Harvey mowed down the next three batters and went another scoreless inning to the delight of the home crowd.