07/15/09 1:30 AM ET
Fielder, Hoffman shine for NL All-Stars
Braun plays right as Senior Circuit's winless streak hits 13
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Prince Fielder provided an early RBI double and Hoffman pitched an inning of scoreless relief, but the end result was a 4-3 victory in favor of the American League. The NL's drought in the Midsummer Classic now runs to 13 consecutive years.
Hoffman was the last of Milwaukee's trio of All-Stars to appear on Tuesday, but his showdown with Young certainly provided a personal highlight. Participating in his seventh All-Star Game -- his first not representing the Padres -- Hoffman came in to pitch the sixth in what was then a 3-3 tie. With one out, he allowed a single to Texas' Josh Hamilton, which brought Young to the plate.
There was some significance in that, as it was Young who hit a game-winning, two-run triple off Hoffman in the ninth inning of the 2006 All-Star Game. Yes, Hoffman had pitched in an All-Star Game since, but no, he hadn't forgotten that hit.
Facing Young for the first time since, Hoffman won the battle this time, inducing an inning-ending double play.
"Three years later, it was nice," Hoffman said. "I know it wasn't quite the same stage or situation, but from a personal standpoint, I won't keep seeing the same fastball going into the gap."
"I was determined to take a pitch, and he threw me one I probably could have hit," Young said. "I tried to go the other way and hit it hard, but right at the second baseman. But I have the utmost respect for Trevor Hoffman and what he has done in this game."
Hoffman has now pitched 6 1/3 innings in All-Star games and has appeared in the game all seven years that he has been invited.
"I don't know how it could get old," Hoffman said of the experience. "I think it's such an honor to be one of the players in the National League that they want to represent your league."
Fielder had already sealed his highlight for the Brewers' contingent four innings earlier. And the fact that the first baseman even had the opportunity to get in the game was bonus enough for him. Quite content to respect the fact that St. Louis' Albert Pujols belonged at first base in this -- his -- game, Fielder had all but planned on remaining a spectator in what was his second All-Star Game.
"This is his show," Fielder said just prior to the game. "I'm just here to have a good time and watch the show. I have no problem just watching."
But he was called on quickly, needed as a pinch-hitter with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on second and two out in the bottom of the second. And one night after claiming the State Farm Home Run Derby crown, Fielder delivered again.
He laced a ground-rule double down the left-field line off AL starter Roy Halladay to give the NL a temporary 3-2 lead in what was a three-run inning. Fielder's double also snapped an 0-for-19 by Brewers All-Stars. The last hit recorded by a Milwaukee representative came in 1999, when Jeromy Burnitz doubled and scored.
"I wouldn't say it was perfect," Fielder said afterward, "but it was a pretty good couple of days."
To be fair, Fielder does owe some credit to teammate Rickie Weeks, whose bat the first baseman used both in Monday's Derby and again in Tuesday's game. Fielder has hit with Weeks' bat for much of the season.
"Whatever feels comfortable at the time, I'll use," Fielder said. "I switch every now and then. I just like to see something else, I guess. I just won't use the pitcher's bat. I won't go there."
In Fielder's previous All-Star appearance, he used the bat of then-teammate Joe Dillon and went 0-for-1.
Ryan Braun, using his own bat, didn't have the same success at the plate on Tuesday despite coming in as one of the big guns in the NL's lineup. He ended up going 0-for-2 with a flyout to center and a groundout to short as the NL's cleanup hitter, right behind Pujols.
"It's a tremendous honor to be here at all," Braun said. "And for NL manager Mr. [Charlie] Manuel to think highly of me at all and to put me in the middle of that lineup is special."
Though Braun is now 0-for-5 in his All-Star career, he still owns the distinction of being only one of two Milwaukee players to be voted in as a starter in consecutive All-Star Games.
"The first year, this is a little bit overwhelming," he said. "There are a lot of appearances, a lot of media, a lot of things to autograph. I knew what to expect this year, and so I've been able to relax and enjoy the experience more."
To his relief, he also had an uneventful showing in right field, a position that he had never played before Tuesday. Not in the Majors. Not in the Minors. Not even in Little League.
Braun spent a little time getting acclimated to right prior to Tuesday's game, saying that since the dimensions at Busch Stadium are fairly uniform in left and right that he didn't expect much trouble.
As it turned out, he did just fine. His first career catch as a right fielder came in the second. And though he stumbled briefly when AL outfielder Jason Bay hit one his way in the fourth, Braun made that catch, too, without incident.
Braun moved to left in the bottom of the fifth and remained there for two more innings.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.