The National League ended its 13-year winless streak in the All-Star Game, defeating the American League 3-1 in a microcosm of what has become the “year of the pitcher.”
Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves hit a three-run double in the seventh inning last night for the NL, which hadn’t won Major League Baseball’s midseason exhibition game since 1996.
The AL had 12 wins and a tie in the 13 previous All-Star Games. The NL now leads the all-time series 41-38-2.
“To be able to come through in a big spot is something I’ll never forget,” McCann, who pumped his fist in the air after reaching second base, said in a postgame news conference. “As a kid this is what you dream about. Tonight I was just lucky enough to be in the situation to come through.”
The NL was shut out until the seventh inning. Scott Rolen of the Cincinnati Reds and Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals singled off Phil Hughes of the New York Yankees. Matt Thornton of the Chicago White Sox came in to pitch and walked Marlon Byrd of the Chicago Cubs before allowing McCann’s bases-clearing double into the right-field corner.
The winning league in the All-Star Game earns home field in the World Series, and NL manager Charlie Manuel of the Philadelphia Phillies said that was just as crucial as ending the losing streak.
“All good things have to come to an end,” Manuel said in a postgame news conference. “I talked to our guys before the game and told them how important home field was.”
Combined 18 Strikeouts
Baseball’s best hitters had a combined 13 hits and 18 strikeouts. The AL’s only run came on a walk, an error and a sacrifice fly by Robinson Cano of the Yankees in the fifth inning. The AL had six hits, its lowest number since also having six in 1999.
As of the end of June, pitchers’ earned run averages and batters’ home-run totals were at their lowest in almost two decades, and strikeouts were on a record pace.
“You can see the quality of the arms out there,” said McCann, who was selected as the game’s Most Valuable Player. “It’s the year of the pitcher. Every single guy you’re facing is a quality pitcher.”
Hitters couldn’t complain about needing time to warm up -- the temperature was a sultry 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius) at game time.
The death of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner earlier in the day in Tampa, Florida, cast a somber shadow over the usually joyous atmosphere at the game. The game was preceded by a moment of silence for the man known as “The Boss,” who helped lead the Yankees to seven World Series titles.