Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth to cap off a dominant night of pitching by the American League as the AL All-Stars notched their seventh straight win over their National League counterparts, 4-3.
With the exception of Cleveland Indians closer Brad Hand in the eighth inning, NL hitters couldn’t get anything going against the AL’s hurlers, as they struggled to string together good at-bats, let alone hits and walks, for most of the night. Following starter Justin Verlander, a parade of the league’s elite pitchers came out of the bullpen and absolutely shut down the National League lineup, giving up only three runs on five hits, striking out 16 and walking only three. First-time All-Star and Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber struck out the side in the fifth, earning All-Star Game MVP honors in front of his home crowd fans.
The AL got out to an early lead, as Astros left fielder Michael Brantley drove in teammate Alex Bregman with a two-out double off of Dodgers ace Clayton Kerschaw in the second. Jacob deGrom and Luis Castillo stifled the offense for the third and the fourth, but Walker Buehler got himself into trouble in the fifth. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez led off the inning with a double to left, and he would later score on a Jorge Polanco infield single after moving to third on a groundout by Austin Meadows. Buehler would get pinch-hitters Francisco Lindor and Gleyber Torres (hitting for George Springer and DJ LeMahieu, respectively) to strike out, but the damage was done.
Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon got the NL on the board in the sixth, hitting a solo home run off of Oakland closer Liam Hendricks, his first hit in eight All-Star Game at-bats, but the AL struck right back in the seventh. Having reached base on a leadoff walk against Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff, Matt Chapman advanced to third on a single by catcher James McCann and scored on a 6-4-3 double play by Xander Bogaerts. The next batter, Joey Gallo, then added another insurance run, homering off new pitcher Will Smith to put the AL up 4-1.
The NL made things interesting against Cleveland closer Brad Hand in the eighth inning, however. With the bases loaded thanks to walks to Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal and Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong and a single by Colorado outfielder David Dahl, Mets first baseman and Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso bounced a single over Gleyber Torres, driving in two runs to bring the NL within one. The go-ahead run would eventually reach second, as DeJong and Alonso caught the AL napping with a double-steal, but a pop-out in foul territory by Mike Moustakas ended the threat.
Yankees pitchers had a big day in Cleveland. The first reliever out of the pen, second-time All-Star Masahiro Tanaka, earned the win, pitching a scoreless second in which he struck out one batter and showed off his defensive dexterity, snagging a hard-hit ball by Wilson Contreras.
Aroldis Chapman earned the save — his first career save in an All-Star Game, in fact. And CC Sabathia, who began his career in Cleveland, opened the night with the ceremonial first pitch and ended the night with a two-out mound visit in the ninth to give him one last chance for an ovation from the crowd.
With the win, the American League All-Stars are now 45-43 all-time against their rivals. Most of the participants can now enjoy a well-earned two-day rest. You can catch the Yankees back in action on Friday, as they resume the regular season slate at home against the Blue Jays.