KANSAS CITY -- Ryan Cook isn't ready to wake up yet.
"To try to put this in perspective, if I were dreaming about this whole experience, dreaming myself into being an All-Star, it still wouldn't compare to the feeling of actually getting to experience it," Cook said. "But this does feel like a dream. It's been great. I'm just trying to take it all in."
The hard-throwing A's righty has a couple of strikeouts to remember it by -- against Nationals rookie phenom Bryce Harper and the Mets' David Wright for his first and final outs, no less. Cook also induced a fly out from the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz for a perfect seventh inning in Tuesday's 8-0 win for the National League against the American League in the Midsummer Classic at Kauffman Stadium.
Overall, Cook showcased 11 pitches on the national stage, with eight tallied for strikes, and most of them coming in the form of a fastball that hit 96 miles per hour. The rookie also flashed his slider a couple of times, all the while hiding any nerves that may have joined him.
"I didn't have any tonight, for whatever reason," Cook said. "I don't know why."
"You worry a little bit about him coming into a game like that -- you look at where he's been and how quickly he's come into this position -- and then he goes in and pitches as well as I've seen him all year," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It was very impressive. Usually, nerves get in the way a little bit, at least for the first guy, but certainly not.
"He throws [Harper] a fastball away and then locks him up with a fastball in, and then he was off for the races. You could see he felt confident."
|"I was out there feeling like a little kid. I was thinking, 'This is something that I should not be doing right now.'"|
|-- Ryan Cook|
More like a confident little kid, really.
"For whatever reason," he said, "I was lucky enough to realize the task at hand was still to get outs, but at the same time, I was out there feeling like a little kid. I was thinking, 'This is something that I should not be doing right now.'"
Earlier in the day, Oakland's lone All-Star representative -- joined by his parents and girlfriend for the two-day event -- was flanked by the likes of Justin Verlander and Joe Mauer during the morning's parade around the streets of Kansas City. Hours later, he was brushing shoulders with Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano during pregame introductions at Kauffman Stadium.
By night's end, he was able to call them all friends.
"It's been great, getting to meet everybody and know guys on a personal level, as opposed to just seeing them on the opposing team," Cook said. "Just talking about their hobbies and their interests off the field, that's just really been the best part about it. I've been thoroughly impressed with the fact that these guys have the household names, but once you get to know them, they're just like me and you."
Cook, 25, rode into Kansas City on the strength of a 1.41 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP, not to mention a season-opening 23-inning scoreless streak. The righty allowed runs on just two occasions thereafter, spanning 17 appearances.
"He's got great stuff," fellow All-Star and division counterpart Felix Hernandez said. "Really great stuff. We've already seen him too many times."
Now the rest of the nation has seen him, too. And Cook couldn't be more grateful.
"Such a surreal experience," he said. "Everything you ever thought it would be and 10 times more. That's the truth. To have this experience just makes you want more."