The Major League All Star game was played on Tuesday night, and like Midsummer Classics of the recent past, up for grabs was home field advantage in the World Series. This one counts, and don't you forget it.
This year, Citi Field played host to the finest players that the National and American Leagues had to offer, with young aces Matt Harvey (New York Mets) and Max Scherzer (Detroit Tigers) opposing each other at the jump.
Unlike last year's slugfest that saw the N.L. trounce the A.L., this was a pitcher's duel for most of the evening, with a total of six hits between both teams through the first five innings, which is impressive considering the amount of firepower on both sides.
The Phillies' representatives, Cliff Lee and Domonic Brown, both saw playing time under the bright lights on Tuesday, and neither fared terribly well.
Lee, whose face during the pre-game introductions was not one of amusement, entered the game in the top of the fifth inning, with the National League trailing 1-0.
Cliff may have dominated hitters this year to the tune of a 2.86 ERA and a 5.95 K/BB, but he got off to a rocky start when he allowed a double to Baltimore's Adam Jones to leadoff the inning. The next hitter, Joe Mauer, reached on an infield single that ticked off the glove of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Baltimore's J.J. Hardy grounded into a fielder's choice that scored Jones from third, but was erased when Mike Trout grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
It wasn't the most memorable inning for Lee, who allowed a pair of hits and an earned run in an inning of work. Unsurprisingly, he threw 13 of his 19 pitches for strikes.
Dom Brown, he of 23 homers at the break, entered the game in the top of the sixth inning as a defensive replacement in left field. He came to bat in the bottom of the seventh, with the N.L. trailing 2-0, with a runner on first and one away. A.L. Skipper Jim Leyland, who was in it it to win it, went with the lefty-on-lefty matchup by calling in LHP Brent Cecil (Toronto Blue Jays), who proceeded to strike Dom out on three pitches. It would be his only at-bat of the game, as he was on deck as the tying run when Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvaraz popped out to end the game.
While I am of the opinion that the All Star Game should be a pure exhibition, and not an actual game that determines homefield advantage in the World Series, this one was not without an amazing moment. Before the bottom of the eighth, Leyland turned to closer Mariano Rivera to pitch the bottom of the frame. Rivera, who is set to retire following the season, entered the game to a standing ovation from the Citi Field crowd, as well as both dugouts, as the All Stars stood to recognize the future Hall of Famer's last go-round.
It was honestly one of the coolest moments of the season, given that Rivera is one of the few players who everyone can agree on as an all-time great. It's a rare thing when baseball fans can agree on such a thing, but I've never met anyone – even the most ardent Yankees-hater – who didn't respect Rivera's career. He made his final ASG appearance a good one, and for his effort, was named the MVP of the game.
Anyway, back to the game. The National League would go down without much of a fight, as they got shutout 3-0 to a dominating American League pitching staff. Chicago's Chris Sale got the win, Texas' Joe Nathan got the save, and the A.L. will have home field advantage in the World Series.