AL-Americans: Jeter, Trout spark victory
Yanks shortstop goes 2-for-2 in final ASG; Angels star wins MVP Award
MINNEAPOLIS -- The 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field was always going to be about Derek Jeter.
Jeter has been the face of baseball for nearly two decades, winning five World Series titles and being named an All-Star 14 times in a career that is set to end with his retirement after the season.
So it was only fitting that the Yankees' legend went 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored to help lead the American League to a 5-3 win over the National League on Tuesday on a beautiful Minnesota night that saw a first-pitch temperature of 72 degrees.
"I'm not retiring at the end of the year, because I don't think I can play -- it's just the time is right," Jeter said. "So today, I was fortunate. I enjoy playing these All-Star Games and competing against the best, and today, I was fortunate to get a couple of hits. But I still feel as though I can play."
Angels star and All-Star Game MVP Mike Trout added an RBI triple in the first inning and a go-ahead double in the fifth, while Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the first to pace the offense for the AL, which won home-field advantage in the World Series for the second straight year.
Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer picked up the victory for the Junior Circuit, and Twins closer Glen Perkins picked up the save for the AL in front of the home crowd. Perkins, a Minnesota native, received a huge ovation as he trotted to the mound and pitched to his batterymate, Kurt Suzuki.
Perkins made quick work of the NL, throwing a perfect ninth on just nine pitches, much to the delight of the hometown crowd, which chanted his name throughout the inning.
"I think [it met] my expectations and more," Perkins said. "But coming in there and hearing the reception, hearing how loud the fans were, it makes me want to get to the playoffs, because I think it felt like a playoff atmosphere out there tonight."
And it was an electric atmosphere in what was Jeter's final All-Star Game and with Trout's MVP performance. It was almost as if the 40-year-old was passing the torch to Trout, whom many believe is the best all-around player in baseball at just 22 years old and could soon replace Jeter as baseball's signature star.
"Growing up, I was setting goals to myself that when I get, if I ever get the chance to get to the big leagues, that's how I want to play," Trout said of Jeter. "Just the way he carries himself on and off the field and how he respects the game."
Jeter's first at-bat to lead off the game was a memorable one, as 41,048 fans in attendance gave him a 63-second ovation before he stepped into the batter's box, with Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright waiting behind the mound to let Jeter receive the fans' applause.
Just two pitches later, Jeter received even more cheers after he doubled to right field on a 1-0 cutter from Wainwright to help spark a three-run first inning for the AL. It was the first time Wainwright had faced Jeter.
"I'm just glad I got to face him whether that was the outcome or not," Wainwright said. "It's something I can always say to my kids that I faced one of the greatest of all time. He got a hit. He beat me. I'm proud to have faced him, though."
After Jeter's double, Trout tripled to right field to score Jeter, before Cabrera deposited an 0-1 fastball from Wainwright into the left-field seats to get the AL out to an early 3-0 lead with one out.
The NL rallied with two runs in the second against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. Phillies second baseman Chase Utley doubled home the first run before coming around to score on an RBI double from Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
Jeter was again the center of attention in the third, leading off with a single to right field off Reds right-hander Alfredo Simon. Jeter advanced to second on a wild pitch, but he was stranded there.
"I'm proud he got a base hit," Simon said. "I'm really happy for him. I just feel happy. My family has seen me pitch in the All-Star Game."
It led to an unforgettable moment in the top of the fourth when Jeter ran out to field his position, only to be replaced by White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Jeter walked off the field with Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" blaring throughout the stadium, and he hugged his AL teammates upon entering the dugout.
Jeter then came out to a curtain call, receiving an even bigger ovation from the crowd. He finished his All-Star career with a .481 average by going 13-for-27, with his 13 hits ranking as the fifth most in the history of the Midsummer Classic.
"I thought it was great," Jeter said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. My back was turned, and I heard [former teammate Robinson] Cano yelling. Usually when he yells, I ignore him. And then I saw Ramirez come out. So it was a wonderful moment that I am always going to remember."
The NL tied the game in the fourth on a two-out rally, with Utley getting plunked by a pitch from White Sox ace Chris Sale. Utley was pinch-run for by Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, who showed off his impressive speed by scoring on a double off the right-field wall from Lucroy.
The AL took the lead for good with a two-run fifth inning against Cardinals reliever and Minnesota native Pat Neshek. A's catcher Derek Norris and Ramirez both singled with one out before Trout plated Norris with a double down the left-field line. Astros second baseman Jose Altuve added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to left off Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard, with the run charged to Neshek.
The two clubs traded zeros over the last four innings, with a group of impressive relievers dominating the final innings. A total of 21 pitchers were used on the night, with only four of those pitchers giving up at least one run. It also marked the first time in All-Star Game history no pitcher went more than one inning.