Fielder powers National League to 5-1 victory in All-Star Game
Prince Fielder’s incredible power did not help him win Monday night’s Home Run Derby, but it did help his National League squad beat the American League 5-1 in the 2011 Midsummer Classic. Fielder’s towering three-run home run off C.J. Wilson in the fourth inning helped him take home MVP honors and put the NL in front 3-1. After losing 12 of the past 13 All-Star Games, the NL has now won two-in-a-row for the first time since 1995 and 1996.
The carry-over from Monday’s Homerun Derby seemed apparent early on as Fielder dealt with boos from the Arizona crowd ostensibly angry at Fielder’s decision to leave home-town slugger Justin Upton off the NL Derby team. Two batters after Fielder’s home run, which scored Carlos Beltran and Matt Kemp, Upton pinch-hit for Lance Berkman while fans chanted his name to show their support.
“I didn’t take it personal at all,” Fielder said of being booed. “I understood it; no hard feelings.”
It was the Derby’s runner-up, Adrian Gonzalez, who snapped an early pitchers’ duel with the first hit of the game. NL starter Roy Halladay and teammate Cliff Lee combined to retire the AL’s first 11 hitters until Gonzalez’s two-out home run in the fourth inning.
Even with two outs and nobody on base, Lee struggled to escape the inning and surrendered back-to-back singles to Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton before being relieved by Tyler Clippard. Clippard gave up an immediate single to Adrian Beltre but as the AL appeared to seize control of the game, Hunter Pence gunned down Bautista at the plate to end the inning.
“It was great to have the pitching set up the way it was,” NL manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s hard to beat great pitching and a three-run homer.”
It was the last serious threat the AL managed against the tough NL bullpen, featuring ERA leader Jair Jurrjens, Clayton Kershaw and hard-throwing lefty Johnny Venters. The AL managed just two hits during the final five frames and never mounted a serious threat.
The NL tacked on insurance runs in the fifth and the seventh innings to stretch the lead to the final score of 5-1. In the fifth, the NL utilized its speed on the base paths to manufacture a run. Starlin Castro, who pinch-ran for Troy Tulowitzki, quickly stole second and third-base off reliever Jordan Walden. After Rickie Weeks grounded into a fielder’s choice to the pitcher and Castro was tagged out at home, Weeks stole second base and was therefore in position to score on Andre Ethier’s two-out single to right field.
In the seventh inning, it was reliever Chris Perez’s turn to allow the NL to increase its lead when allowed a single to Hunter Pence and a ground-rule double to Pablo Sandoval. However, if not for a ricochet off catcher Matt Wieter’s mitt and then the home plate umpire’s knee guard during Sandoval’s at-bat, Pence never would have been in scoring position. He made it from first to third on the passed ball.
Bearded closer Brian Wilson locked down the save by getting the final two outs in the top of the ninth with Matt Joyce and Carlos Quentin at second and third. Quentin reached on Castro’s throwing error and Joyce singled to right field, both off closer Joel Hanrahan. Wilson then relieved Hanrahan and got Michael Cuddyer to fly out to right and Quentin’s teammate Paul Konerko to ground out to Castro to end the game.
San Diego Padre closer Heath Bell, the lone representative for the Padres, induced an Asdrubal Cabrera pop-out to second to end the eighth inning. Although he pitched to just one batter, Bell entertained the crowd with a full-speed sprint from the left field bullpen and a feet-first slide upon reaching the mound.
“I think he nailed it,” Brian Wilson said of Bell’s slide. “I don’t know if I’d make it. I think I’d slip, ankle, flip, next thing you know I can’t pitch.”