New young stars showcase their talents in All-Star Game
NEW YORK --- It will not go down as the most thrilling All-Star Game ever. It was also a strange Midsummer Classic: there was Prince Fielder barreling around the bases for a triple—yes a triple (“We found out tonight that Prince is faster than JJ Hardy,” Adam Jones said); Neil Diamond crooning Sweet Caroline in front of a New York crowd; and Mariano Rivera making his grand entrance….in the eighth inning.
The Yankees closer stole the show in his final All-Star Game appearance, but the 84th Midsummer Classic was also a showcase for the game’s newest batch of young talent —while last year belonged to Harper and Trout, this year, a new group of phenoms made their All-Star debuts, and they did not disappoint.
• After allowing a double to Mike Tout and plunking Robinson Cano, the Mets’ Matt Harvey — at 24, the youngest pitcher to start the All-Star Game since Dwight Gooden in 1988 — shut down the AL lineup over two scoreless innings. Harvey showed the world why he was the game’s most dominant starter over the first half, with his killer slider (both Miguel Cabrera and Jose Bautista struck out on the pitch) and his impenetrable cool.
Said Harvey, “I was texting with LaTroy Hawkins after I came [out of the game], and he said, 'You look like you’re walking the park.' Obviously there was some jittering going in the bullpen but for some reason once I got out there, I felt great and felt like I was at home.”
• Marlins 20-year-old ace Jose Fernandez was impressive in the top of the sixth, retiring Dustin Pedroia, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis on 13 pitches. Pedroia and Davis, both potential AL MVP candidates, each struck out looking. “That kid is really impressive,” said Michael Cuddyer. “He might be a little under the radar right now but with his stuff, he won’t be for long.”
• In the bottom of the seventh Baltimore’s Manny Machado, 21, made the defensive play of the game when he backhanded a groundball hit by Paul Goldschmidt down the line (“It took a bigger hop than I expected,” he said) and gunned down Goldschmidt at first. “Just doing what he’s doing,” Orioles teammate Adam Jones said of Machado’s play. “We see him make a play like that every other day. Now you all see why I call him the Baby Face Assassin.”
• When Salvador Perez, Kansas City’s 23-year-old catcher, singled off Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning, he became the first Royal with a hit in an All-Star game since Bo Jackson in 1989.
• Matt Moore and Chris Sale, a pair of 24-year olds, combined for three hitless innings, helping the AL staff to post its third shutout win in the All-Star Game, and first since 1990. After the game Moore spoke about Rivera’s emotional pregame speech (“Something I’ll never forget — to be here for a moment like this, it’s amazing,” he said) and the thrill of facing hitters like Yadier Molina for the first time. “Facing Yadi-- that was definitely a highlight,” said the Rays lefthander, who retired the NL’s current batting leader on a groundball to short. “I may have gotten a scouting report from Jose,” Moore said, of teammate Jose Molina, Yadi’s brother. “That 2-2 changeup? That was all Jose.”
As he spoke late Tuesday night, Moore was gathering his stuff and looked around the clubhouse one last time as he headed out the door. “It’s been incredible to be around these guys,” he said. “I’ll remember this forever.”CORCORAN: Rivera reclaims rightful title as best set-up man in baseball