Living Up To It’s Name

Logo.jpgAt the start of last night’s All-Star Game, the stage had already been immaculately set for a special evening.  The night before, Josh Hamilton stole the hearts of fans with his incredible performance in the Home Run Derby.  Then, before the start of the game in a tribute to baseball and Yankee Stadium, every living member of the Hall of Fame stood by his respective position as the current starters were introduced.  For those who consider themselves to be students of the game, the ceremony likely brought goosebumps to your arms and chills down your spine.  All that was needed to top off the entire event was a great game, and boy did that ever happen:

Coming into the fifth inning, this All-Star contest was dominated by pitching, as the AL’s Cliff Lee, Joe Saunders, and Roy Halladay locked up against the NL’s Ben Sheets, Carlos Zambrano, and Dan Haren to produce a few scoreless frames.  In the top of the fifth, however, the NL drew first blood…

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A solo home run by Matt Holliday gave the NL a 1-0 lead, which was quickly followed by a sacrifice fly from Lance Berkman to up the deficit to 2-0.  The scored stayed that way until the seventh inning when, after a beautiful rendition of “God Bless America” from singer Josh Groban, J.D. Drew came to the plate with Justin Morneau on base and did this:

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Drew’s two-run bomb tied the game, but the NL quickly took the lead back again when Adrian Gonzalez’s sac fly drove home Miguel Tejada in the top of the eighth inning.  So, with the AL facing fireballer Billy Wagner with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, it seemed as if the outcome would be determined in the ninth.  That is, until the AL found a little more magic:

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After Grady Sizemore singled and stole second, Evan Longoria (until this moment known mostly to his name correlation with actress Eva Longoria) smashed a ground-rule double down the left field line, scoring Sizemore and tying the game at 3-3.  This is when things really started getting crazy.

After a scoreless ninth, the game went into extra innings and saw the AL load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the tenth.  However, ground balls from Sizemore and Longoria resulted in force outs at home plate, while Morneau nearly got an infield single that would have won the game, but he was thrown out on a great play by Tejada at short.  The NL had dodged a bullet, and were understandably pumped up:

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Yet, the NL (who were not hitting at all at this point) wriggled out of another seemingly impossible situation in the bottom of the twelfth when center fielder Nate McClouth gunned down Dioner Navarro at home plate, with NL catcher Russell Martin doing a great job of blocking the dish and tagging him out:

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Finally invigorated, the NL rallied with the bats in the top of the 12th inning, loading the bases with just one out.  However, consecutive strikeouts from Dan Uggla and Gonzalez fizzled the rally.

The 13th inning again saw the AL get a man in scoring position and not score him, while the NL by and large slumped once again.

As the game neared its fifth hour of play, Justin Morneau lead of the bottom of the 15th with a single for the AL.  After a hit from Navarro and an intentional walk to create a force at any base, Michael Young (the hero of the 2006 All-Star game) hit a fly ball to left field.  Corey Hart got under it and fired home to a tagging Morneau:

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After a moment in which the collective audience held its breath, the ump flashed the safe signal and the AL bench erupted:

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After a ******** 4 hours and 50 minutes of play, the American League had beaten the National League 4-3 in perhaps the most exciting midsummer classic in history!  What a game and what a finish!

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