Robinson Cano’s home run in the top of the 10th inning gave the American League a 2-1 win.
USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI – Four players who participated in the 1967 All-Star Game – tied for the longest in history at 15 innings – were honored before Tuesday’s 88th edition of the Midsummer Classic.
Tony Perez, who won that game 50 years ago to the day with a home run off Catfish Hunter, joined Rod Carew, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal among the legends recognized in a ceremony as Major League Baseball paid tribute to Latin-born Hall of Famers.
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Hours later, Robinson Cano added another line item in his bid to one day get a plaque alongside them in Cooperstown, homering off Wade Davis in the 10th inning to give the American League a 2-1 victory over the National League.
Cano, named the game’s MVP, caught a ceremonial first pitch from fellow Dominican native Marichal as part of the festivities, which filled him with pride.
“Those guys opened the door for Latin American players,’’ Cano said in Spanish. “To be there among those legends who got the game going, it’s a blessing. I can’t wait to find that photo on social media and get it printed.’
Cano was not initially chosen for this, his eighth All-Star Game and seventh in the last eight years. Though he’s having a solid season with Seattle Mariners, arriving at the break with 17 homers, 60 RBI and an .813 on-base plus slugging percentage, he was bypassed in favor of starter Jose Altuve and substitutes Jonathan Schoop and Starlin Castro.
When Castro had to pull out because of a hamstring injury, Cano got the call and accepted the invite even though he’s nursing a quadriceps injury himself. He was thrilled to see his line shot sail over the right-field fence for reasons that went beyond helping the AL win.
“I hit the ball and thought, ‘I hope it doesn’t hit the wall because I can’t run too hard,’’’ Cano said. “I know a lot of my teammates, and myself, didn’t want to play any more extra innings because it was past 11 p.m. and the game was getting long. Several of us have to fly out tomorrow, so I’m happy I was able to end the game.’’
A former Home Run Derby champion, Cano helped the Yankees win the 2009 World Series and captained the Dominican team that claimed the 2013 World Baseball Classic, earning MVP honors along the way.
With a .305 career batting average, 295 home runs, two Gold Gloves, five Silver Slugger awards and five top-six finishes in the AL MVP race, Cano is building a case as the top second baseman of his generation and a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. That’s still far down the road, though. At 34, Cano has another six seasons left on his 10-year, $240 million contract.
Cano learned only Monday that the All-Star Game no longer determines home-field advantage in the World Series, and he figured that would increase his chances of getting in. He got the call as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and, three innings later, made sure the game didn’t come close to matching that 1967 marathon.
That heroics came as no surprise to Nelson Cruz, his longtime pal and teammate both in Seattle and with the Dominican WBC teams.
“He finds a way to get it done,’’ Cruz said. “This game works in funny ways. Yesterday the fans got a great show with the home run exhibition put on by Aaron Judge and those guys, and today we had a pitchers’ duel ended in dramatic fashion by Robinson. It was special.’’
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