Grading out the All-Star Game

Wednesday July 16th, 2008
"Bring out the Hall of Famers."
-- The understandable rally cry from a weary fan during a 14th-inning bathroom trip.
Cal Ripken, Al Kaline, Yogi Berra and crew never entered the game, but the final All-Star game in Yankee Stadium also ended up being the longest Midsummer Classic ever. The game mirrored the rest of the season, as pitching was king. And it mirrored the last 11 All-Star Games, as the NL couldn't manage a win.
Yankee stadium emptied out as the night went on, but Professor Filice stayed until the final pitch to accurately fill out the never-ending game's report card.
All-Star Game Grades
National League
Geovany Soto, C
0-2, K
Terry Francona ran wild on the NL catchers, but it seemed like the pitchers were leaving them out to dry.
Lance Berkman, 1B
0-2, RBI, K
Big Puma delivered a deep fly ball that allowed Hanley to waltz in from third for the NL's second run.
Chase Utley, 2B
1-3, K
Justin Duchscherer made the mistake of getting behind 3-1 in the count, and Utley made him pay with a shot into right field. The base knock advanced Hanley to third and set up the NL's second run. Give Utley a hockey assist.
Chipper Jones, 3B
1-3, K
A .333 average for the night? Slacker.
Hanley Ramirez, SS
2-3, R, K
Hanley being Hanley: swinging a mighty stick, using his legs and sailing a ball up the first base line for an avoidable error.
Ryan Braun, LF
0-3, 2 K
The Hebrew Hammer struggled in his first (and most likely last) trip to Yankee Stadium. Hope he enjoyed the parade.
Kosuke Fukudome, CF
0-2, K
Ervin Santana made him look foolish on a swinging strikeout.
Matt Holliday, RF
1-3, HR, RBI, R
Holliday had an impressive display of power, smacking an opposite-field homer on a 97 MPH offering from Ervin Santana to score the game's first run.
Albert Pujols, DH
Remember when Tony La Russa left this guy on the bench in last year's game? Hurdle played it safe, giving the freakish hitter three ABs.
Ben Sheets, SP
2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K
Brewers fans had to get a bit queasy watching their fragile ace throw 42 pitches over two frames, but his signature breaking ball got the best of a few AL hitters.
6-28, R, RBI, 3 BB, 9 K
Besides Miguel Tejada, the NL reserves went 4-for-25 with nine strikeouts. Dan Uggla sure didn't sell himself to the national audience, striking out three times, leaving six runners on base and committing three errors. On the positive side, Nate McLouth did make an amazing throw in the 10th to keep the game alive. But as it turned out, that play just delayed the inevitable.
12.2 IP, 13 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 14 K, 1 HR
Mets fans in attendance couldn't have been surprised by Billy Wagner's meltdown. His inclusion in the game raised many eyebrows in the Big Apple. Edinson Volquez probably wasn't too happy about the short porch in right. But hey, he pitches in Great American Ballpark. This unit did allow just four runs in 12.2 innings, though, so I must stay in the "B" range.
Clint Hurdle, Manager
I know he's trying to get everyone in the game, but Clint Hurdle's decision in the bottom of the eighth inning has to be questioned on this report card. After Brian Wilson quickly recorded the first two outs of the inning, Hurdle yanked the Giants closer in favor Billy Wagner. Wagner proceeded to allow the game-tying run.
American League
Joe Mauer, C
1-1, BB
So what if it barely got by Dan Haren? A single's a single.
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
0-2, K
Chased the high cheese to strike out with a runner in scoring position.
Dustin Pedrioa, 2B
0-1, BB
Brought gloves out to Jeter and A-Rod in the top of the second. The Nation grimaced.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
0-2, K
Madonna reportedly skipped the game, and A-Rod had a pair of uninspired ABs (a strikeout and a popup behind home plate). I'm not saying, I'm just saying ...
Derek Jeter, SS
1-3, SB
The flash bulbs were popping with the Captain's every move, but he put a damper on a productive first at-bat by grounding into a routine double play in the third and grounding out to Dan Haren with runners on first and second in the fifth.
Manny Ramirez, LF
0-2, 1 K
Flashed a classic Manny smile after dodging a playful lob over his head by Carlos Zambrano ... but that's about it.
Josh Hamilton, CF
1-3, K
Nowhere near as exciting as Monday night, but you could sure do worse than a hard-hit single and a steal in your first All-Star Game.
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
1-3, K
Ichiro received a favorable bounce in Yankees Stadium's cozy right field and hosed Albert Pujols as he tried to stretch a single into a double.
Milton Bradley, DH
0-2, BB, SB
Coming up to the plate to Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa" in New York City = nice. Falling asleep while leading off of first base = not nice.
Cliff Lee, SP
2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K
Lee got right after hitters, throwing 16 of his 20 pitches for strikes. Lee's command was excellent, as it has been all season.
10-38, HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 12 K
The AL starters were shut out, but the bench got the job done. Game MVP J.D. Drew hit an absolute pea into the right-field seats off Edinson Volquez to tie the game at 2-2 in the seventh. Then rookie sensation Evan Longoria smoked a two-out double down the left-field line to score Grady Sizmore and re-tie the game at 3-3 in the eighth. And finally, Michael Young, who has always been a solid clutch hitter, finished off the game with a sac fly in the 15th. Justin Morneau followed up his Home Run Derby title with a productive night at the plate.
13 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 17 K, 1 HR
Yankees fans unloaded on Jonathan Papelbon after he gave the National League the lead in the eight, raining down boos upon him and chanting "overrated." But their own shutdown artist, Mariano Rivera, almost allowed the go-ahead run in the 10th, if not for a beautiful double-play turn by Rangers Ian Kinsler and Michael Young. In the end, the unit got the job done.
Terry Francona, Manager
Francona did an admirable job of handling the archrival on hostile turf, taking Jeter and Rodriguez out in the middle of innings to allow for a couple standing ovations. Francona's Red Sox have the second-most stolen bases in the AL and he carried this aggressive nature over to the Midsummer Classic, stealing six bases.
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