Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pitching and Prince Fielder Lead NL to Second Straight All Star Victory

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 12, 2011

82nd All Star Game

The National League had boasted about its pitching, with good reason, but it was Prince Fielder's three-run homer in the 4th inning that boosted the NL to their second straight All Star win and home field for the NL entrant in this season's World Series.

Fielder's three-run
shot carries NL.
Roy Halladay set the tone for the Nationals, setting down all six of the batters he faced over the first two innings. His teammate, Cliff Lee, surrendered the only run of the game for the AL, a towering 4th inning solo shot off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez, who just a year ago would have been in an NL uniform.

Fielder did his damage in the bottom of the same inning, following singles by Carlos Beltran and Matt Kemp, with a booming belt to dead center field which hit the top of the wall and careened off a back wall of a private box and back onto the field. No doubt about it, Fielder's hit was a goner, and the NL never looked back.

The score could have been worse than the 5-1 final. Cubs' shortstop Starlin Castro stole second and third base in the bottom of the 5th, only to be gunned down at the plate on a nifty bare-handed snatch and throw by Jordan Walden on a Ricky Weeks chopper.

Walden could not get out of the inning unscathed, however, as Weeks stole second and scored on Andre Ethier's scratch single to right. The NL added another run in the 7th on Pablo Sandoval's screaming ground rule double into the left field corner, which plated Houston's Hunter Pence from second base.

The win was the the second in a row for the National League after losing 12 straight - plus one tie - from 1997 through 2009. The NL last strung together wins in 1994, '95 and '96. Fielder was named the All Star Game MVP, the first ever for a player from the Brewers. His homer was also a first in an All Star Game by a Milwaukee Brewer.

With World Series home field secured for the NL for a second straight season, maybe some of the defections on the AL side - like Justin Verlander, Derek Jeter, C.C. Sabathia and Felix Hernandez - will think twice next year about declining a fan vote or a roster selection.

In a related note, Mets' closer Francisco Rodriguez was dealt to Milwaukee for two players to be named later.

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