Prince Fielder and Pablo Sandoval
– two All-Stars who do their best work near a plate, any kind of
plate – drove in four runs as the National League put together its
first winning streak in 15 years, beating the American League, 5-1,
in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Chase Field.
By Bill Plunkett – The Orange County Register
PHOENIX – Bad bodies ruled.
Prince Fielder and Pablo Sandoval – two All-Stars who do their best work near a plate, any kind of plate – drove in four runs as the National League put together its first winning streak in 15 years, beating the American League, 5-1, in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Chase Field.
The NL was winless in 13 consecutive mid-summer matchups before winning last year in Anaheim but now consecutive All-Star Games for the first time since 1994-96.
“It’s hard to beat great pitching and a three-run homer,” NL manager Bruce Bochy said.
Fielder supplied the three-run home run, a laser off Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson in the fourth inning that skipped off the top of the center-field wall, earning one of next winter’s most-anticipated free agents this year’s MVP award. Sandoval added an RBI double in the seventh inning.
And the AL stars managed just one run for the second consecutive year. They were held to six hits by 10 pitchers including another star familiar with the “husky” section of clothing racks, Padres reliever Heath Bell. Bell added his stamp to the NL victory, racing in from the bullpen at top speed during an eighth-inning pitching change and sliding to a stop on the infield grass just short of the pitcher’s mound. The dramatic entrance produced a divot in the turf – and chuckles from infielders Sandoval and Starlin Castro.
“I prepared for it,” Bell told reporters who asked if he wasn’t worried about possibly hurting himself with the stunt. “On my lawn last week.
“Come on – I’m not going to do something stupid. Well, I’m not going to do something stupid without practicing.”
Bell escaped unharmed. But the same couldn’t be said for two All-Stars – Miguel Cabrera and Josh Beckett.
Cabrera left the game after feeling a twinge in his right side but dismissed the issue as being minor. Beckett, meanwhile, was warming up to replace starter, Jered Weaver, for the second inning when he experienced discomfort in his left knee. Beckett hyperextended that knee in his most recent start for the Red Sox.
“I think when you look at the ballgame, the bottom line is the National League pitching was outstanding,” AL manager Ron Washington said. “We ended up giving up one big inning and they didn’t give up any.”
The AL stars short-circuited its only chance at a big inning. Their only run came on a two-out solo home run by Adrian Gonzalez off Cliff Lee in the top of the fourth. They strung together three more hits after that but the inning ended when Jose Bautista was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on Adrian Beltre’s single to left field.
“I’ve seen them do that to the Brewers all the time,” Fielder said of the NL pitchers who shut down the AL hitters. “I’ve always said good pitching shuts down good hitting unless they make a mistake and they didn’t make any tonight. I’m used to seeing that from them.”
Wilson made the biggest mistake of the night. He allowed singles to Carlos Beltran and Matt Kemp to start the fourth inning then Fielder’s three-run blast on a 2-and-2 pitch.
“I thought I hit it good but I saw Curtis (Granderson) running it down,” Fielder said. “It made me nervous because he was at full speed. I knew if it wasn’t a homer, I’d better hurry up and get to second because he might throw me out. Got a little scared there for a second.”
Fielder’s home run made him a reluctant hero for fans that had booed him throughout Monday’s Home Run Derby. Fielder had angered Diamondbacks fans by choosing his Brewers teammate, Rickie Weeks, for the Derby and not Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton – and the fans had angered his two young sons who didn’t understand why their father was getting booed.
“They didn’t like it too much,” Fielder said. “But we didn’t dwell on it. I didn’t take it too personal because, like I’ve said, I probably would have booed myself, too, if I was an Arizona fan.”