2018 All-Star Game
The 2018 All-Star Game, the 89th edition of the midsummer Classic, was held on July 17th at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. It was the fourth straight year the game was held in a National League ballpark. The logo for the game featured an outline of the dome of the U.S. Capitol in front of a flag-themed background. The American League won the game, 10-6, in 10 innings over the National League for its 18th win in the last 21 editions of the classic. A record 10 home runs were hit, including one by Ted Williams Award-winner Alex Bregman which put the AL ahead to stay in the 10th.
Major League Baseball proposed a change to the rules for the game, to ensure it did not linger into long extra innings. In case of a tied score, starting in the 11th inning, teams would start with a runner on second base. This is a variation of the Schiller Rule already in use in the World Baseball Classic and various other competitions, and in the affiliated minor leagues. The game did go into extra innings for the second straight year, but it was decided in the 10th, so the rule was not used.
In a statistical oddity the two managers designated the starting pitchers in the 2017 All-Star Game to start this game as well, with Max Scherzer of the host Washington Nationals up against Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox. This had not happened since the 1940 All-Star Game, when Red Ruffing and Paul Derringer repeated as the starting pitchers after already doing so in 1939. For Sale, it was a record-tying third straight start.
Coming into the game both leagues were exactly evenly matched, having both won 43 games (with 2 ties) and having also scored the same number of runs. This year's win edged the AL into the overall lead with 44 wins.
A.J. Hinch, manager of the defending World Champion Houston Astros, managed the American League team, assisted by Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays, former Astros coach Rich Dauer and other members of the Astros' coaching staff.
Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers managed the National League team, assisted by coaches Dave Martinez of the Washington Nationals and Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies, as well as members of the Dodgers' coaching staff
In a season typified so far by the prominence of the so-called "Three True Outcomes" - the strikeout, the walk and the home run - the All-Star Game ran true to form, featuring an abundance of the three types of play. There were a record-setting ten home runs hit - five by each league - and in the end the game was decided in extra innings for the second straight year as the American League prevailed, 8-6, in 10 innings. It was the junior circuit's sixth straight win and 18th in the last 23 editions (with one tie), giving it a slight 44-43 edge, with 2 ties, in the overall results.
Max Scherzer started off strong by striking out Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve, and then seemingly also pulling the trick against Mike Trout, but a close call went in the hitter's favor and he eventually drew a walk on a full count. He then moved to third on a single by J.D. Martinez, but both runners were left stranded when Jose Ramirez popped out to second. Javier Baez then led off the bottom of the inning with a single on Chris Sale's first pitch, but the next three batters made out. However, the AL got on the scoreboard in the 2nd as Aaron Judge took Scherzer deep to left-center for the first homer of the night. It was a no-doubter, and even though Scherzer gave up nothing else, striking out a pair in the process, that lead would hold until the 7th. Luis Severino succeeded Sale in the 2nd, but after a lead-off double by Matt Kemp, he retired the next three batters. The AL then doubled its lead in the 3rd when with two outs, Trout homered off Jacob deGrom, adding to an already well-padded All-Star Game résumé. The National League then replied on the first pitch of the bottom of the inning when Willson Contreras ambushed new pitcher Blake Snell by lining a ball into the left-field stands. After those early fireworks, though, that 2-1 score would hold for a while.
As has become the norm in All-Star Games, pitchers remained for short stretches of approximately an inning each, with Mike Foltynewicz, Aaron Nola, Jeremy Jeffress and Felipe Vazquez all making their first All-Star Game appearance for the NL, and Joe Jimenez, Jose Berrios and Blake Treinen doing so for the AL. There were plenty of strikeouts during the middle innings, but few base hits. One exception was a single by Altuve off Nola with two outs in the 5th, which was surprisingly the first hit by the diminutive hit machine in what was already his sixth appearance in the mid-summer classic. As usual also, there were wholesale changes among the position players after the 5th inning, begun by a pinch-hitting appearance by Yadier Molina who hit a fly ball to the deepest part of the ballpark with two outs and a runner on in the 5th. Trout reeled in that ball and the score remained unchanged.
The low-scoring contest became something else entirely starting in the bottom of the 7th. Charlie Morton came to pitch for the AL, and he gave up a solo homer to Trevor Story with one out. It was another hard line drive, almost identical to the one hit earlier by Contreras, and also barely cleared the fence. The score was now tied, and Morton then walked J.T. Realmuto and hit Eugenio Suarez with a pitch. NL home run leader Jesus Aguilar pinch hit for Molina, and he hit a very long fly ball to deep left, but foul, then popped out to Francisco Lindor at shortstop. The AL replied immediately against Josh Hader as Shin-Soo Choo and George Springer singled around a strikeout by Alex Bregman. Jean Segura then pinch hit for Lindor and he hit a foul ball down the first base line. It was by no means an easy play for 1B Joey Votto, who ran over to the dugout rail, stuck his glove above it, only to see the ball bounce off and hit the rail. Votto was charged with an error and, handed a reprieve, Segura drove a pitch to deep left center, giving the American League a 5-2 lead. After another hit, by Mitch Moreland, Brad Hand came in to pitch and recorded the final two outs of the inning.
With a three-run lead and just two turns at bat left for the NL, the game seemed to be over, but the senior circuit was not quite ready to lie down and play dead. In an unexpected development, Morton came back to pitch another inning after struggling in the 7th, and with one out he was tagged by Christian Yelich for a solo homer, cutting the lead to 5-3. Hand and Ross Stripling retired the AL in order in the top of the 9th, and it was now up to major league saves leader Edwin Diaz to nail down the win. He failed in his mission, however, as he walked Realmuto with one out, then allowed a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Scooter Gennett, batting for 2B Ozzie Albies. For the second straight year, extra innings would be needed.
The heavy bashing continued in the 10th, now that the genie was clearly out of the bottle. Bregman led off the top of the inning with a solo homer off Stripling, and his teammate Springer followed by doing exactly the same. Segura and Moreland followed with back-to-back singles, but it seemed that manager Dave Roberts had confidence in his young pitcher and did not want to use another hurler, even though he still had a number available. Stripling did retire the next three batters, but not before Michael Brantley had driven in run number 8 with a sacrifice fly. With an 8-5 lead, Hinch asked veteran J.A. Happ, another first-time All-Star, to finish the game, even if he still had some pure closers available, such as Craig Kimbrel. The first batter Happ faced, Votto, redeemed himself in part for his 8th-inning error by blasting the 10th long ball of the contest. By then, the previous record of six home runs in an All-Star Game had been well and truly shattered, but the NL's players did not have it in them to tie the game again. Yelich, Charlie Blackmon and Lorenzo Cain made outs in order and the final score was 8-6.
|Mookie Betts||RF||Boston Red Sox||1||Javier Baez||2B||Chicago Cubs|
|Jose Altuve||2B||Houston Astros||2||Nolan Arenado||3B||Colorado Rockies|
|Mike Trout||CF||Los Angeles Angels||3||Paul Goldschmidt||DH||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|J.D. Martinez||DH||Boston Red Sox||4||Freddie Freeman||1B||Atlanta Braves|
|Jose Ramirez||3B||Cleveland Indians||5||Matt Kemp||LF||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Aaron Judge||LF||New York Yankees||6||Bryce Harper||CF||Washington Nationals|
|Manny Machado||SS||Baltimore Orioles||7||Nick Markakis||RF||Atlanta Braves|
|Jose Abreu||1B||Chicago White Sox||8||Brandon Crawford||SS||San Francisco Giants|
|Salvador Perez||C||Kansas City Royals||9||Willson Contreras||C||Chicago Cubs|
|Chris Sale||P||Boston Red Sox||SP||Max Scherzer||P||Washington Nationals|
American: Chris Sale, Luis Severino, Blake Snell, Joe Jimenez, Jose Berrios, Blake Treinen, Charlie Morton, Edwin Diaz (W), J.A. Happ (SV)
National: Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Mike Foltynewicz, Aaron Nola, Jeremy Jeffress, Felipe Vazquez, Josh Hader, Brad Hand, Ross Stripling (L)
American: Aaron Judge (2nd), Mike Trout (3rd), Jean Segura (8th), Alex Bregman (10th), George Springer (10th)
National: Willson Contreras (3rd), Trevor Story (7th), Christian Yelich (8th), Scooter Gennett (9th), Joey Votto (10th
- Ted Barrett served as the crew chief and home plate umpire, assisted by Jim Reynolds (1B), Alfonso Marquez (2B), Andy Fletcher (3B), Mike Muchlinski (LF) and Cory Blaser (RF). Marvin Hudson served as the replay official.
- Scott Boeck: "All-Star Game becomes its own Home Run Derby as sluggers shatter record", USA Today, July 18, 2018. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "These are your 2018 All-Stars: Astros, Indians, Red Sox lead way with 5 picks; Braves atop NL with 4", mlb.com, July 8, 2018. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "On record-setting night, AL outslugs NL", mlb.com, July 18, 2018. 
- Jamal Collier: "Nationals Park on deck as 2018 ASG host: After amazing week of events in Miami, DC is up next", mlb.com, July 12, 2017. 
- Jamal Collier: "Nationals, MLB roll out classy '18 All-Star logo: Ceremony begins march to 89th Midsummer Classic", mlb.com, July 27, 2017. 
- Steve Gardner: "American League prevails in extras, All-Star Game sets record with 10 homers", USA Today, July 18, 2018. 
- Richard Justice: "7 best moments from the All-Star Game: Memorable Midsummer Classic had all a fan could want from baseball in 2018", mlb.com, July 18, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "MLB All-Star Game: Yes, Bryce Harper deserves to be there — because it's all about enjoyment", USA Today Sports, July 8, 2018. 
- Andrew Simon, David Adler and Manny Randhawa: "10 homers smash All-Star Game record: Astros' Alex Bregman, George Springer go back-to-back for AL squad", mlb.com, July 18, 2018.