MIAMI – Breaking down the 2017 MLB All-Star Game from Marlins Park:
American League 2, National League 1
The final: Robinson Cano’s leadoff home run in the top of the tenth inning off Wade Davis was the decisive blow as the AL continued its All-Star dominance, winning for the 12th time in the last 15 years.
Cano’s 395-foot blast to right field was just the fourth extra-inning home run in All-Star history.
In a season dominated by power hitting and home runs, leave it to the All-Star Game to throw baseball fans a curve. Pitching dominated the 88th Midsummer Classic as the two teams combined for 22 strikeouts and finished the regulation nine innings in a 1-1 tie.
Just as unlikely was the pitcher Cano victimized for the game-winner. In the past two seasons combined, Davis has allowed a total of one home run.
Second is best: Cano, who was named to the All-Star team as an injury replacement for Starlin Castro of the New York Yankees, was the third choice at second base for AL, coming into the game following Jose Altuve and Jonathan Schoop.
Schoop scored the AL’s first run of the game when he laced a two-out double in the fifth and scored on a seeing-eye blooper by Miguel Sano that fell just inside the right-field line and out of the reach of Bryce Harper.
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Man of the moment: St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was in the middle of the action in several of the game’s memorable moments. He was in the right place at the right time when AL outfielder Nelson Cruz brought his phone to the plate in the top of the sixth inning for a picture with umpire Joe West.
Molina obliged and showed off his quick trigger – similar to the way he throws out opposing baserunners.
Then in the bottom of the inning, he tied the game 1-1 with a 385-foot home run to right center field. In his All-Star career, Molina is 5-for-8 with a homer and two RBI.
After drawing a walk to lead off the ninth inning, Molina represented the NL’s best chance to win, but he was stranded at second base as the potential winning run.
Fernandez tribute: The aura of late Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez can be found throughout the Miami area, and especially at Marlins Park.
Several players, and not just his Marlins teammates, mentioned their affection for him before the All-Star Game. Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper even wore special cleats with Fernandez’s picture on them.
The two-time All-Star right-hander, who was killed in a boating accident last September, has his locker preserved and encased in glass. In the National League clubhouse, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez had the locker right beside Fernandez’s. He talked openly about wanting to play well in the game, not only because he had about 20 friends and family members from the Domincan Republic here to watch him, but also to honor Fernandez’s memory.
Pitching the third and fourth innings for the National League, Martinez allowed one hit and struck out four of the eight hitters he faced.
Manager’s special: Both managers said before the game that since the outcome didn’t determine home field advantage for the World Series, they’d make an effort to get every player a chance to play. So by the end of the eighth inning, NL second baseman DJ LeMahieu was the only position player left on the bench.
What you missed on TV: Between the second and third innings, fans were treated to the first road appearance of “The Freeze,” a former sprinter who dresses in a superhero costume at Atlanta Braves games and races a fan around the warning track.
The unique twist is the huge head start the fan gets on the way to the finish line in right field. On this particular occasion, the Freeze wasn’t able to close the gap as the fan won. Of course, it’s always a little harder to win on the road than it is at home.
Gallery: Best of the 2017 All-Star Game