A slugfest it was not. Scoring was at a premium. Pitching dominated.
If you went to Marlins Park for Tuesday’s All-Star Game looking for offensive fireworks, like those provided one night earlier in the Home Run Derby, you were probably disappointed.
It took a Robinson Cano solo homer off Wade Davis in the 10th to bring an end to an American League 2-1 win over the National League before an announced sellout crowd of 37,181.
Cano was named MVP.
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“As a kid, you watch (Ken) Griffey and all those guys that come to the All-Star Game and win MVP, and you wanna get that feeling,” Cano said. “I wanted to have this feeling.”
While there were 17 hits, only three went for extra bases. All the rest were singles. The pitchers had a field day, whiffing 23 batters. Outside of two homers by Cano and Yadier Molina, the night’s most unforgettable plate appearance belonged to Nelson Cruz when he pulled out his cell phone and had Molina take a picture of him standing with home plate umpire Joe West.
“It was weird, huh?” Molina said afterward. “It was weird and funny too. He asked me for a picture and I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ He said ‘Yeah, yeah take a picture with Joe.’ I took two.”
Cruz said he had planned to take a selfie since before the game and told his teammates, but nobody believed he would do it. Yonder Alonso said Cruz told him he was going to do it at 2 p.m.
Cruz said he tried to take a selfie in the 2013 All-Star Game but accidentally left his phone on the bench.
He didn’t forget Tuesday.
“This time, if I have to take a picture with someone, it’s Joe West,” Cruz said. “He’s a legend.”
Cruz said West couldn’t figure out what was going on at first.
“(He) was like, ‘Come on. Get out of here. What are you doing?’” Cruz said. “Then he was like, yeah, let’s do it.”
But what the 88th All-Star Game lacked in high-scoring sizzle it made up for with more subtle moments that were touching at times and light-hearted at others.
The specter of late Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was hard to miss. Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper wore cleats with the image of Fernandez’s face pictured on the side. Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez, using his finger, scrawled Fernandez’s No. 16 in the dirt when he took the mound in the third.
Martinez said he dedicated the game to Fernandez, Yordano Ventura and Oscar Taveras, all former Major Leaguers who died in tragic accidents, because he “wanted to show how much they meant to me.”
The Twins’ Miguel Sano drove in the game’s first run on a bloop hit, and it remained 1-0 until the sixth when the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina homered off Ervin Santana.
Moments earlier, just before stepping into the batter’s box, Cruz whipped out his cell phone and had Molina take a snapshot — with Molina in full catching gear.
It remained tied until the 10th when Cano led off with a home run to right off Davis, the only representative for the World Series champion Cubs on the N.L. roster.
Indians bench coach Brad Mills, who was filling in for Terry Francona, was relieved for it to end then. He feared having to dip into his bullpen and use hurlers he said “probably shouldn’t be in the game and risk injury or something.”
“Besides it was a Cubs pitcher, so that was kind of nice,” said Mills, referring to last year’s World Series when the Cubs knocked off the Indians.
It was the first All-Star Game since 2002 that didn’t carry World Series implications. Starting in 2003, the winning league received home field advantage in the Series. No more. Now the pennant winner with the best winning percentage gets home field.
But National League manager Joe Maddon of the Cubs said he was prepared if the game went longer.
“Not at all,” Maddon said. “We had it all set up.”
He said he would have been allowed to bring Justin Turner, who had been used earlier in the game, under a “re-entry rule.” Buster Posey, who started for the N.L., stuck around in case something happened to Molina.
“We had another five or six innings left in the bullpen, also,” Maddon said.
It never got that far.
Cano led off the 10th with a home run, and the first All-Star Game played in Florida was history.
Cano has the MVP trophy to remember it buy.
Cruz has the snapshot taken of him by Molina.
Or maybe not. Cruz couldn’t locate his phone afterward.
“Another Tom Brady moment?” one reporter asked.
And Cruz began laughing.