Cleveland — On this night, baseball’s future stayed undecided.
Texas catching prospect Sam Huff’s two-run homer in the seventh inning rallied the American League to a 2-2 tie with the National League on Sunday — and provided the first glimpse of an All-Star tiebreaker — in a Futures Game that promised to be different and delivered.
This year’s format was changed with the game shortened from nine to seven innings, and Huff’s homer off Colorado’s Ben Bowden forced the game into the eighth — this time, extras — and earned him MVP honors.
Both teams began their at-bats with a runner at second base in the eighth, but neither could push a run across, and the 21st game featuring baseball’s up-and-coming stars ended with a thud.
The tiebreaker could come into play in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. The past two games went 10 innings.
Beyond the other adjustments, the biggest difference in this year’s game was the lack of scoring. Last year, the U.S. won 10-6 as Reds prospect Taylor Trammell homered and tripled.
Down to their final two outs, and blanked over six innings, the AL tied it in the seventh on Huff’s shot onto the pedestrian patio in left.
The 21-year-old connected on a 1-0 pitch from Bowden, who is for 20-for-20 in save opportunities in Double-A and Triple-A this season.
After rounding the bases, Huff was greeted at the dugout by the entire AL squad, which spilled out along with Hall of Fame slugger Jim Thome, who managed the youngsters.
Trammell hit an RBI single — and probably should have been credited for stealing home — and was probably in line to win his second straight MVP honors before the AL rallied.
Held without a hit for three innings, the NL finally broke through in the fourth.
Trammell dropped a bloop RBI single off right-hander Matt Manning, who pitches at Double-A Erie, and Dylan Carlson had a two-out, run-scoring hit off Kris Bubic, a lefty in Kansas City’s system.
Manning gave up two earned runs on three hits in one-third of an inning, and was one of three Tigers prospects who took the field. Infielder Isaac Paredes, who plays at Double-A Erie, had a double in two at-bats, while top catching prospect Jake Rogers started and went 0-for-1.
A former high school football star, Trammell nearly made it 3-0 with a straight steal of home. Bubic didn’t see him barreling down the line until the last moment, but threw in time to nip Trammel, who dived head first and was called out by umpire Jose Navas.
TV replays appeared to show Trammell slipped his hand under Rogers’ tag, and under normal circumstances the play would have likely been reviewed and overturned.
The early innings were dominated by strong pitching from both sides with high-kicking San Diego prospect MacKenzie Gore, the No. 3 overall pick in 2017, among one of several players to shine.