|American League's David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox reacts after striking out during the fifth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)|
AL stifled again in second straight All-Star loss
PHOENIX—For the second straight year, the American League mustered just one run in the All-Star game. Quite a power shortage for some normally electric bats.
The 5-1 loss to the National League on Tuesday night leaves the AL outscored 8-2 in the last two All-Star games and gives the NL champion the home field in the World Series for the second year in a row.
Injuries, minor ones by all accounts, to Boston pitcher Josh Beckett and Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera didn't help the AL cause, either.
Beckett warmed up and was going to follow starter Jered Weaver but shut down because he didn't quite feel right.
Cabrera left with slight oblique soreness and said as he made a quick exit from the ballpark that he didn't think it would keep him out when regular season play resumes.
The AL had 12 wins with one tie in the 13 seasons leading up to last year's 3-1 loss in Anaheim. Weaver joked that maybe he's to blame, since he switched leagues when the AL troubles began.
"Maybe I'm the bad link here," he said, "but we had a great lineup. Those guys on the National League have some great arms and they kept us off balance. What are you going to do? You win some, you lose some. Obviously we would have liked to win this one."
Beckett's absence added to a depleted AL pitching staff that already was missing Detroit's Justin Verlander, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, Tampa Bay's James Shields and Seattle's Felix Hernandez because they started for their teams on Sunday.
"We had to make an adjustment, and that's exactly what the game is about," AL manager Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers said. "But we were able to get some pitching out there, so we are not going to use not having Josh as an excuse."
Beckett pitched five innings in his last start against Baltimore on Friday after he slightly hyperextended his knee on the wet mound at Fenway Park.
"I could have pitched. I'm just not comfortable going out there and getting hurt in an All-Star game and costing myself starts in the second half," Beckett said. "I think that's how everybody should be. This game does mean a lot with home-field advantage and everything but at the same time there are some things that are ahead that are a little more important."
Pitchers don't score runs, anyway. They don't even bat in this game. And offense was a big problem.
The only run for the American League got came on a fourth-inning homer by Boston's Adrian Gonzalez, only recently a transplant from the NL's San Diego Padres. Overall, the AL managed six hits, five of them singles. Six AL runners were left on base.
The Rangers' Josh Hamilton said the problem is pretty basic.
"The biggest thing is you get guys on base," he said, "then you get a hit with guys on base."
Four of the six hits came from starters. Jose Bautista of Toronto, the major league's runaway leader with 31 home runs, made a spectacular catch running into the wall in foul territory, but after he singled, he was thrown out easily trying to score from second on Adrian Beltre's single to left, ending the fourth inning. The National League scored three in its half of the fourth on game MVP Prince Fielder's homer, and the AL sputtered from there.
Cabrera said he hurt himself on a checked swing in his only at-bat in relief of the starter Gonzalez.
Curtis Granderson of the Yankees called the two-year scoring woes "just a coincidence."
Boston's Kevin Youkilis said the National League simply "has a lot of great players."
"They've got great pitching and great hitting and you never know what's going to happen," he said. "That's what makes these things kind of fun, because it's a crapshoot."
He shrugged off the prospect of the Red Sox facing a road disadvantage should they reach the World Series.
"I've got the philosophy that we've got to win on the road anyway," he said.