On a balmy, summer night in America’s national capital of Washington D.C., the baseball world congregated to celebrate it’s Midsummer Classic. The MLB All-Star Game is the annual showcase of the game’s best players, putting on a celebration for America’s treasured pastime. In the backdrop of a historical capital city and in front of the United States’ Medal of Honor recipients, MLB’s top stars put on an absorbing show that encapsulates how baseball transcends sport into American society and culture.
Does the All-Star Game have any importance on the regular season? No. Is home-field advantage for the World Series determined by the outcome of the Midsummer Classic? For the second straight year, it has no implication on the World Series. And this makes the All-Star Game all the more enjoyable. The players can let loose and reveal their superior talents, from pitchers dealing high-velocity fastballs to hitters bashing balls out of the park for home runs. The superstars like Mike Trout and Home-Run Derby winner Bryce Harper can chat with MLB on Fox’s TV crew, giving the viewers an insightful and comical perspective of these acclaimed athletes.
Alex Bregman and George Springer Give AL Path to Victory
Heading into the 89th All-Star Game, the American and National Leagues had split the previous 88 games with a 43-43 record and also had the same amount of runs scored (361). But when the final out was tallied at Nationals Park, it would be the American League All-Stars to cement themselves in All-Star Game lore, beating the National League 8-6 in 10 innings. It would be an All-Star Game that would have 14 runs scored, 20 total hits, 25 strikeouts, and the most home runs ever in the Midsummer Classic with ten. The American League got off to a quick 2-0 lead as a result of homers by New York Yankees phenom Aaron Judge and Los Angeles Angels superstar Trout. But two home runs by NL All-Stars Willson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs and Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies tied the game up at two, heading into the eighth inning. Jean Segura would hit a three-run homer to give the AL a 5-2 lead, only to then give up three more runs to the NL, including a two-run dinger by Scooter Gennett.
In extra innings, the Houston Astros showcased why they were World Champions last season, with back-to-back jacks from Alex Bregman and George Springer respectively, which gave the American League squad the go-ahead victory in extra innings. It would be the sixth time in All-Star Game history that a home run would be hit in extra innings.
This was the sixth consecutive victory for the American League, a league that has possessed prime offensive players as of late. Bregman, who was awarded the All-Star Game MVP, proved his clutchness once again with his home run tonight, adding to the list of his greatest plays as a member of the Astros. Let’s focus on some of the other performances that were on display in tonight’s wild All-Star Game.
Jean Segura Overcomes All-Star Snub with Great Performance
After an aggressive voting campaign, Jean Segura was voted in as one of the last players to round out the American League team. Initially, Segura was snubbed from the All-Star team, despite hitting .323/.354/.458 and having a 127 OPS+, ranking him as one of the best hitters in baseball. As a result of the #SendSegura social media campaign, the shortstop would earn himself the accomplishment of being an All-Star on a team looking to break the longest postseason drought in baseball.
“It was unbelievable,” Segura said. “I can’t believe all those people around the world, the fans, the marketing, the organization, the people in Seattle, my teammates, even Felix (Hernandez) yesterday going around the city trying to get some votes for me. It just feels amazing. It feels special. You come from another country and you see how the people support you around the world, it makes it even more special.”
During tonight’s All-Star Game, Nelson Cruz told Ken Rosenthal that Segura had stated: “I’m going to hit a homer.” In the eighth inning, after a hard-fought at-bat that saw Joey Votto commit a costly error, Segura got his chance to prove the doubters wrong. He blasted a baseball into the left-field stands, producing a three-run homer that would give the American League the lead heading into the ninth. He would join Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki and Robinson Cano as the only Mariners to have a home run in the All-Star Game. The energetic shortstop would be seen for minutes after this fantastic moment celebrating with his teammates in the dugout.
In extra innings, the shortstop tallied another run, ending the game with two hits and three RBI. In a league that is filled with stellar shortstops, Segura proved tonight with his display that he belongs in the conversation as one of the best all-around players in baseball.
Mike Trout Enhances All-Star Resume
The legend of Mike Trout in the MLB All-Star Game continued to evolve in tonight’s MLB All-Star Game. Heading into the Midsummer Classic, Trout had 17 All-Star Game plate appearances, was 7-for-14, with one home run, three walks, and two MVP awards. In the top of the third inning, with Jacob deGrom on the mound, the Los Angeles Angels center fielder blasted a ball into the left-field stands, giving the American League All-Stars a 2-0 lead.
Trout became the first Angel ever to go deep twice in All-Star play. The only other Angels to have home runs in the All-Star Game are Vladimir Guerrero (2006), Garret Anderson (2003), Fred Lynn (1983) & Leon Wagner (1962). The outfielder became the third player with a hit in each of his first six All-Star Games, joining Willie Mays and Joe Morgan.
Through 17 career All-Star Game appearances, Trout is hitting .500/.588/1.214 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, four RBI and a stolen base. And the outfielder is loving every moment of playing this great game, hungry to get his team to the postseason.
Matt Kemp Heightens Comeback Story with All-Star Hit
Tonight’s All-Star Game had an extra sense of importance for Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. Kemp has bounced around to various different teams after initially leaving the Dodgers and winning the NL MVP. After being traded from the Atlanta Braves back to the historic franchise in Chavez Ravine, Kemp has rediscovered his form, earning him a spot on the All-Star team.
This season, Kemp is hitting .310/.352/.522 with a 135 OPS+, 15 home runs, and 60 RBI, earning himself a spot on the National League All-Star team. In tonight’s game, the Dodgers outfielder got a leadoff double off of New York Yankees starter Luis Severino. While on second base, he even got a selfie with likely future teammate Manny Machado, the most sought-after hitter leading up to the trade deadline.
While tonight’s solid outing is important for Kemp, the superstar outfielder has grander ambitions of taking his team back to the World Series and winning the Fall Classic.
“Who would get traded to the team that went to the World Series and not want to be a part of that?” Kemp said. “I want to try to help them go further than they did last year. For me to have the possibility to be back in L.A., where I came up in the big leagues, if I can be a part of that and make some things happen, it’s a good opportunity. I expressed that to [the Dodgers].”
“I want to help the team win that last game of the [postseason],” the outfielder stated. “That doesn’t really happen a lot — to be able to come back where you started. I’m going to try to make some things happen. It’s a cool story.”
MLB All-Star Game Still Best in Professional Sports
Even though the MLB All-Star Game does not have any World Series implications anymore, it still proves to be the best in professional sports. While the Pro Bowl, NBA, and NHL All-Star Games may have more glamour and allure, the MLB All-Star Game maintains that the romanticism that encompasses baseball is put on full display in the All-Star Game, as we congregate in one of baseball’s grandeur cathedrals to watch the sport’s best showcase their finest athletic ability.
With a wild All-Star Game in the books that emulated the video game “MLB: The Show,” Washington did an outstanding job in putting on display the intersection between baseball and American communities. From the powerful renditions of The Star Spangled-Banner and God Bless America to taking a moment and recognizing the importance of Stand Up 2 Cancer, Major League Baseball knows how to strike the perfect balance between athletic display and the impact the sport has on the local community.
Baseball is in good hands with tons of high-quality talent. Let the second half of the season begin, which should be filled with twists and turns all the way to the Fall Classic in October.
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