Jimenez gets K, AL prevails in record-setting slugfest
Washington — A record 10 home runs. A slew of strikeouts.
The all-or-nothing All-Star Game mirrored what baseball has become.
Astros teammates Alex Bregman, who earned MVP honors, and George Springer homered on consecutive pitches to begin the 10th inning, and the American League beat the National League, 8-6, Tuesday night for its sixth straight win.
“Standard operation nowadays, right?” said AL manager A.J. Hinch of Houston. “We’re going to homer and punch out as an industry.”
“There’s a great love affair with both results. I mean, to kind of empty your tank and hit homers tonight at this event is probably the best thing imaginable. Just to have that kind of emotion that comes with the home run, especially when the big boys hit it and especially when the Astros hit it.”
Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Jean Segura also connected for the AL in a game where every run except one scored on a homer.
Scooter Gennett hit a tying two-run shot off Seattle closer Edwin Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. Joey Votto, Willson Contreras, Trevor Story, Christian Yelich also went deep for the NL.
There had never been more than six homers in an All-Star Game since Babe Ruth hit the very first one in 1933.
While several sluggers went deep, not everything went their way. Starters Max Scherzer and Chris Sale and the relievers combined to fan 15 in the first 4.5 innings, and there were 25 strikeouts overall.
Tigers reliever Joe Jimenez contributed to that strikeout total in his short but successful All-Star Game debut. He struck out San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford, the only batter he faced, to end the fourth inning.
“You’re facing power pitchers right now, so that’s kind of what you expect: hit-or-miss with these guys,” said Boston’s J.D. Martinez, the former Tiger who leads the majors in homers and RBIs.
Segura’s three-run homer in the eighth landed in the bullpen and broke a 2-all tie. The Seattle infielder popped up the previous pitch, but Votto, Cincinnati’s reliable first baseman, dropped it for an error as he approached the dugout railing.
Segura then connected off Milwaukee’s Josh Hader, one of baseball’s most dominant relievers. After the game, the 24-year reliever took responsibility for racist and homophobic tweets that resurfaced while he was pitching.
Judge homered in the second off Scherzer, the former Tiger and Nationals ace who became the first reigning Cy Young Award winner to start an All-Star Game in his home park.
Scherzer struck out four batters in two innings but gave up two hits: a single to fellow ex-Tiger Martinez in the first inning and the dinger to Judge.
“It’s tough to barrel up some balls when you’ve got some of the best pitchers in the game throwing against you and you don’t really have a scouting report," Judge said. "You’re just going up there swinging.”
Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, another former Tiger, was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat by Astros reliever Charlie Morton in the seventh. Suarez also struck out in the ninth.
Diaz wound up with the win and Toronto’s J.A. Happ got a save after giving up Votto’s homer.
The AL won for the 18th time in 21 games played to a decision, and leads the series 44-43-2. Not since the early 1960s has the AL been ahead.