The Yankees Stadium clock read 1:37 AM as Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins slid home in the 15th inning giving the American League a 4-3 victory over the National League in Tuesday night’s 2008 All-Star Game. The game itself lasted 4 hours and 50 minutes long, a record for the longest All-Star Game in MLB history.
“It was just crazy how it seemed like it lasted forever,” Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “It was the last year for Yankee Stadium, the last All-Star game, and it’s kind of fitting that it seemed like it lasted forever.”
Beside the record long time, the game itself also saw many other records take place including combined strikeouts (34), runners left on base (28) and players to make an appearance (63).
When the game finally finished up, both teams were down to their final pitchers and both coaches were starting to wonder if they would have to call upon position players to fill the pitching void. Neither team wanted a repeat of the 2002 tie in Milwaukee so some team members began volunteering to toss a few outs if need be including J.D. Drew of the Boston Red Sox and David Wright of the New York Mets.
“I told David, ‘You were the last pick, I went and got you. Have you ever pitched in an All-Star game?” NL Manager Clint Hurdle said. “I was doing Chinese arithmetic from the sixth inning on. I felt like I was in algebra class. It got wild.”
As far as the game itself goes, the 20 or so thousand fans who stuck around at Yankee Stadium for the whole contest definitely got their moneys worth. The NL opened up the scoring with a solo-homerun by Matt Holiday of the Colorado Rockies in the 5th innings. Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros drove in the NL’s second run on a sac-fly in the 6th inning.
The AL was able to tie the game on a two-run homer by Boston’s J.D. Drew in the 7th inning off of Cincinnati Reds ace Edinson Volquez. Drew would finish the game going 2-4 with 2 RBI’s, a run, a stolen base and a walk to earn the MVP honors.
With the game knotted at two, Francona called for his own closer, Jonathan Papelbon, to enter the game in the 8th. After surrendering a leadoff single to Miguel Tejada, a throwing error by Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro who had just entered the game, moved Tejada into scoring position with only one out. San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez drove home the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly putting the NL up 3-2.
The AL struck right back, scoring in the bottom of the 8th inning when Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays slapped an RBI double down the left-field line, scoring Grady Sizemore of the Cleveland Indians.
And then the scoring stopped.
Neither team was able to plate any runs in 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th or 14th innings. The chances were certainly there but neither team capitalized on those opportunities. The AL even had the bases loaded with no outs in the 10th inning but failed to score off of Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Aaron Cook.
The winning run for the AL would finally come in the 15th inning off of Brad Lidge of the Houston Astros. Lidge, who was not supposed to pitch in the game, was called upon as a last resort effort before position players would be summoned to hurl. A single by Justin Morneau started things out in the inning. Dioner Navarro also singled and J.D. Drew followed the hit up with a walk to load the bases with only one out for Michael Young of the Texas Rangers. Young, a former All-Star Game MVP, delivered by driving a fly ball to right-field just deep enough to score Morneau for the game winning sacrifice fly.
The American League’s 4-3 victory extends their winning streak over the National League to 12 games/years (11-0-1). They have not been defeated since a 1996 loss in Philadelphia and are a perfect 6-0 since the game has determined the site of home field advantage in the World Series.
The walk-off RBI by Young was also only the second time in All-Star Game history that the AL has won in its last at bat. The first came back in 1941 when Ted Williams hit a walk-off homerun to propel the American League to a victory.
Both leagues have today off and games resume on Thursday July 17, 2008.