By Andrew Kahn
In a game known for its winning streaks, the American League won its third straight All-Star Game Game on Tuesday, 6-3, to earn home field advantage in the World Series. Cincinnati provided an exciting two nights of events, with baseball’s young stars on display. Get ready for the second half!READ MORE: Boy, 8, Hailed A Hero After Discovering Baby Sister Unresponsive In Pool
Big fish in a talented pond
There were 20 All-Stars 25 years or younger, the most ever. One of those stars shined extra bright on Tuesday night: Mike Trout, who won his second straight All-Star Game MVP award, the first player to do that. In 2012, Trout’s first full season in the majors, he hit a single in his only ASG at bat. The next year, he led off the game with a double. He hit a triple in the first inning last year to score a run. And on Tuesday, he completed the All-Star Game cycle with a leadoff home run off the red hot Zack Greinke (see below). His most impressive feat of the night may have come on the bases. In the fifth, after beating out a potential double play, he scored from second on a single to left, blazing around third base:
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Manny Machado, who turned 23 earlier this month, had an RBI double, and Jacob deGrom, the defending NL Rookie of the Year, was dominant in his one inning of work, needing just 10 pitches to strike out the side.
Watching the Home Run Derby on television had gotten less exciting for me over the years, but when I attended the Derby two years ago at Citi Field I had a blast. This year’s Derby, with its new format, was exciting for fans at the park and watching at home. Hometown star Todd Frazier won the bracket-style event, beating Joc Pederson in the finals with 15 homers:
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The timed rounds injected some new life into the Derby, and each round was competitive. Every matchup was decided by a single homer—no shock given that the player who hit second won all but one time—with several decided “at the buzzer” or in bonus time. As Frazier got hot late in all three of his victories, the Cincinnati fans went wild. Watching on television was exciting, too. The Derby is back!
Cincinnati and the Reds proved to be worthy All-Star Game hosts, and it was a good week for the franchise. In addition to Frazier winning the Derby, Pete Rose received a warm reception in a pre-game ceremony, and Johnny Bench was named one of the four greatest living players according to 25 million fan votes (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax were the others). Frazier went 0 for 3 in the game but teammate Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth on 14 pitches, 12 of which were at least 100 mph.
Pitching streaks to watch
It was no surprise the Dodgers’ Greinke started the All-Star Game given that he entered with 35.2 consecutive scoreless innings. He did not give up a run in his final five starts leading to the break, and his pursuit of Orel Hershiser’s 59-inning record was not affected by Tuesday’s exhibition outing. Greinke—with his 1.39 ERA, the lowest at the break since 1968—is scheduled to start again on Sunday at Washington. Miami’s Jose Fernandez is working on his own streak. In his last start before the break he dominated at home, his 22nd straight home start with a loss to begin his career. He is 14-0 with a 1.17 ERA at Marlins Park. Those streaks are the longest since 1914. He’ll start Friday, but on the road.
Second half storylines
Will, when, and where do Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto get traded? Will the Yankees stay atop of the super competitive AL East? Can the Twins, Astros, and Cubs remain in playoff contention? Those are just some of the questions that will be answered in the second half of the season. The fourth year of the extra wild card spot should lead to more “buyers” as the trade deadline approaches, as teams like the Blue Jays (last playoff appearance: 1993), Astros (2005), and Mets (2006) try to end long postseason droughts.MORE NEWS: Folsom Shuts Sutter Street Down To Open Businesses
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about baseball and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn