Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite “Derek Jeter, Mike Trout and the Oakland A’s” that beat the National League All Stars Tuesday night, but it certainly felt that way. The A’s had six representatives make appearances in the game, including contributions from both pitchers named to the team as well as their battery mate, Derek Norris – and those weren’t even the starters.
Despite feelings that six A’s on one team should be the main story, the story of the 2014 Major League Baseball All Star Game was, is, and always will be Derek Jeter’s final appearance in the Mid-Summer Classic. Face it, love the Yankees, hate the Yankees, think he’s overrated, none of it matters. Derek Jeter will go down as one of the most recognizable players in baseball history – a true icon of the game – and Tuesday, July 15 was all about his final trip to baseball’s top talent showcase.
Mixed into the Jeter show though, there was a game played, one that he played a big part in early on. His American League squad walked away with the victory, 5-3, and home field advantage in the World Series this season.
Admittedly a bit surprising, Mike Trout was named the 2014 All Star Game MVP on the strength of his 2-3 performance with two RBI. It shouldn’t have been a surprise really, Trout was the deserving recipient, but in a game that was made so much about being Jeter’s last, it seemed logical that he would win with his own 2-for-2 performance. Trout winning is the perfect passing of the torch, though, from Jeter, the undisputed face of MLB over the past two decades, to Trout, the up and coming superstar that is poised to take over as the most marketable and recognizable player of his generation.
Still, Jeter had his moments, and went down victorious in his last All Star Game, as it should be.
Heading into his first at bat of the night, “The Captain” was greeted with a loud standing ovation from the Minnesota crowd. After tipping his cap to the crowd and soaking in the moment, he did what Derek Jeter does, he roped a double down the right field line and into the corner. This, of course, following a diving stop in the top-half of the first inning that nearly robbed Andrew McCutchen of a base hit, only McCutchen forgot this was the Jeter-show and beat the throw. (The nerve of him).
NL starter Adam Wainwright stated that he grooved a pitch for Jeter to hit: “I was going to give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it.”
Wainwright backed off those statements a bit later, saying what he meant to say was that he didn’t pitch around Jeter, he went right after him with strikes.
Told of the quote by Wainwright after the game, Jeter said “He grooved them? I don’t know, man… If he grooved it, thank you. You still have to hit it.”
Jeter scored the first run of the game, coming home on a triple by Los Angeles Angels’ superstar and All Star Game MVP Mike Trout to give the American League a quick 1-0 lead. Miguel Cabrera did his best to steal the spotlight with a two-run homer to put the AL up 3-0 before the end of the first inning.
The National League cut the lead to 3-2 with back-to-back doubles in the top half of the second inning by Chase Utley (to score Aramis Ramirez) and Jonathan Lucroy, bringing home Utley.
Jeter lead off the third inning with a single to right field off Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon and advanced to second on a wild pitch to finish his night at the plate, and it would turn out that he would leave the game following his team’s half of the inning.
Jeter left to a long ovation as “New York, New York” played over the stadium PA, received hugs from his American League teammates, and gave the crowd a curtain call in the top half of the fourth inning. Manager John Farrell let Jeter come out to field his position, then had Alexei Ramirez come out to replace him, allowing the crowd to shower him with their admiration and thank him for a career full of memories.
Lucroy continued his own bid for the All Star Game MVP with another RBI on another double in the top half of the fourth inning, bringing in Dee Gordon and tying the game at 3-3.
Oakland A’s catcher Derek Norris collected a single in his first All Star at bat in the bottom of the fifth inning, having replaced Salvador Perez in the top half of the inning.
Alexei Ramirez followed Norris’ single with one of his own to left field to put runners on first and second for Trout. Trout doubled just inside the third base line to bring home Norris and put the American League back on top 4-3. Jose Altuve hit a long sacrifice fly to left field to bring in Ramirez from third and extend the AL lead to 5-3.
As it should have been all along, Farrell setup the ninth inning to allow hometown All Stars Glenn Perkins and Kurt Suzuki pair as battery mates for the save.
Adam Wainwright gave up three runs on three hits as the National League starter, but it was reliever Pat Neshek that took the loss with his two runs allowed in the fifth inning. He pitched just 1/3 of an inning.
Jon Lester gave up two runs for the AL and Chris Sale gave up a run, but both were taken off the hook. Max Scherzer wound up with the win, having pitched a scoreless fifth inning and being the benefactor of the American League’s fifth inning rally.
In the top of the sixth inning, though, it became the Oakland A’s show. Josh Donaldson, who had started the game at third, was replaced, but Scott Kazmir came in to pitch, Yoenis Cespedes took over in left field, Brandon Moss in right field and Norris remained behind the plate. Make that four A’s all stars on the field at one time. Sean Doolittle came in to pitch in the eighth inning to give all of Oakland’s representatives an appearance.
Donaldson, making his first trip to the All Star Game, went 0-for-2 through five innings before being replaced by Adrian Beltre.
Kazmir pitched 2/3 of the sixth inning, getting Giancarlo Stanton to strike out swinging and Dee Gordon to ground out to second base. Batting between Stanton and Gordon, Aramis Ramirez doubled to Cespedes in left, the only blemish on Kazmir’s outing as Ramirez wound up stranded on third.
Cespedes led off the American League’s half of the sixth inning with a ground out to third base and led off the eighth inning with a ground out to shortstop to finish 0-for-2 on the night.
Norris wound up 1-for-2 for the evening. After his single in his first at bat, he struck out on a foul tip in his at bat in the seventh inning. He did earn the honor of catching both of his teammates during their appearances in the game though.
“To be able to have that many guys on the field with the same jersey on,” said Norris, “it’s something special.”
Moss struck out in his only at bat in the seventh inning.
With Doolittle pitching the eighth inning, it marked the second time in the game that there were four Oakland A’s players on the field at the same time, and the second time the battery was all A’s players (Kazmir and Norris being the first in the sixth inning).
“The biggest thing was sharing this with so many teammates,” Doolittle said after the game. “It was a lot more fun that way.”
Doolittle pitched to three batters in the top of the eighth inning. He got Starlin Castro to strike out, allowed a single to Freddie Freeman, and struck out Anthony Rizzo before giving way to Fernando Rodney to finish out the frame.
“That was right up there with my debut, first time pitching in the playoffs. It was an awesome rush. I’m probably going to have to go back and watch it, so I actually remember what happened.”
If it seemed like the A’s were everywhere, it’s because they basically were. Oakland had six players (Donaldson, Kazmir, Doolittle, Cespedes, Moss and Norris) named to the All Star team, the most of any team in MLB – seven players if you count Jeff Samardzija, who was voted onto the National League team by the players and managers, but traded to the A’s, making him ineligible to participate in the game. The six A’s all stars are the most the team has had since 1975, and the most position players the A’s have had since 1991. Donaldson, voted a starter by the fans, became the first A’s player vote to start since Jason Giambi in 2000.
With all six A’s All Stars making an appearance, it matched the A’s all-time record set in 1973 and 1975 for the most All Stars to make an appearance in a single All Star Game.
On the opposite side of the Bay, the San Francisco Giants had Hunter Pence and Madison Bumgarner named to the National League All Star team. With Bumgarner throwing on Sunday and ineligible to pitch in the game, Tim Hudson was named as his replacement.
Pence came into the game in the bottom of the sixth inning as a defensive replacement. He wound up grounding out in his only at bat in the top of the seventh inning. Hudson did not make an appearance for the National League.
Donaldson and Cespedes also both participated in the Home Run Derby Monday night, showcasing the A’s. The two teammates faced off against each other in a swing-off to see who advance to the second round. Cespedes prevailed and eventually went on to launch 30 homers on the night in defense of his 2013 Derby title. He won his second crown, making him only the second back-to-back winner in history, joining Ken Griffey, Jr (1998-1999).