The fans were denied a first-of-its-kind Swing-Off tiebreaker, but home runs decided the All-Star Game anyway. Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton hit back-to-back blasts in the fourth inning, powering the American League to a 3-2 win over the National League on Tuesday.
There were a lot of strikeouts, a few long home runs and a festive atmosphere as the annual exhibition returned to Dodger Stadium for the first time since 1980. And the AL, which once spent decades as the event’s lovable losers, continued its dominance, winning. a ninth straight All-Star Game in a run that has seen the junior circuit go 27-6-1 starting in 1988.
Stanton, who grew up in Southern California and attended games at Dodger Stadium as a child, won the game’s most valuable player award.
“I can’t really explain how special this is,” he said. It’s hard to put into words that this is reality right now. It’s really cool. I’m soaking it all in.”
With Tuesday’s win, the AL is now 47-43-2 overall since the game was first played in 1933 in Chicago.
This year’s edition was a much-hyped matchup of left-handed starting pitchers. Shane McClanahan of the Tampa Bay Rays — a surprising candidate for the AL’s Cy Young Award — was facing Clayton Kershaw, the three-time NL Cy Young-winner, who was starting an All-Star Game for the first time in his decorated career. Both pitchers were expected to be helped by the long shadows that Dodger Stadium produces in early evening starts.
But the NL got on the board right away in the first inning. Mookie Betts of the Dodgers hit an RBI single to center off McClanahan and after Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres grounded into a double play, Paul Goldschmidt of the St. Louis Cardinals made it 2-0 with a solo homer.
But the AL took control back in the fourth against Tony Gonsolin, a breakout right-handed starter for the Dodgers. The Yankees’ Stanton tied the game with a two-run blast that traveled 457 feet to left-center and Buxton of the Minnesota Twins gave the AL a 3-2 lead with a 425-foot homer to left.
“Being able to do that with Stanton and being in the All Star Game you don’t see very often,” Buxton said of the back-to-back homers, “so it’s something I cherish.”
That would prove to be enough as a parade of 10 AL relievers, including Nestor Cortes and Clay Holmes of the Yankees, combined for eight scoreless innings after the two-run first, with Emmanuel Clase of the Cleveland Guardians finishing the NL off by striking out. the side in the ninth on only 10 pitches.
The game ending in nine innings spoiled what could have been a wild finish. Should the score have been tied through nine innings, the exhibition would have been decided with a home run derby of sorts in which three players from each side would be given three swings each. The team that hit the most home runs would have claimed victory.
New York’s teams sent 10 players to Los Angeles. Beyond Stanton’s home run, the group’s biggest highlights came when Cortes and Holmes pitched with catcher Jose Trevino, the Yankees’ unlikeliest of All-Stars, as their battery mate. Trevino also singled in the seventh. Outfielder Aaron Judge went 0 for 2 and pitcher Gerrit Cole did not pitch because he started for the Yankees on Sunday.
For the Mets, Jeff McNeil went 0 for 1 as the NL’s starting second baseman and Pete Alonso walked in his only plate appearance. Outfielder Starling Marte and reliever Edwin Díaz did not play. Had the game come down to the Swing-Off tiebreaker, Alonso, who participated in the Home Run Derby, would have been one of the NL’s three batters.
James Wagner Contributed reporting from Los Angeles.