Justin Verlander blazed 97 mph heat from the start, Cleveland's Shane Bieber struck out the side and the AL staff combined to fan 16, dominating a loaded NL lineup 4-3 in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night for its seventh straight win.
With fans hoping to see a replay of Monday's jaw-dropping aerial show when 312 homers cleared the walls, the diamond became a pitchers' paradise — at least until the late innings.
Derby champ Pete Alonso grounded a two-out, two-run single past Gleyber Torres in the eighth inning to pull the NL to 4-3, but Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth for the save on the same field he got the win three years ago in World Series Game 7 for the Chicago Cubs' first title since 1908 — and denying the Indians their first since 1948.
Carlos Carrasco hopes to strike out cancer.
The Indians right-hander, who was recently diagnosed with a form of leukemia, was saluted in the fifth inning of the All-Star Game during Major League Baseball's "Stand Up to Cancer" campaign.
The 32-year-old stood in the third-base coach's box, flanked by four All-Star teammates and Indians manager Terry Francona. Carrasco held a sign that read "I Stand'" while Lindor's said: "Cookie," which is the pitcher's nickname.
Carrasco had been feeling fatigued in May, and was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia following an exam at the Cleveland Clinic.
He has been cleared to resume conditioning and throwing activities to the extent he can tolerate them. Carrasco could pitch a bullpen session later this week and believes he'll return to the team at some point this season.
He had been scheduled to start against Minnesota on June 5, when the Indians issued a statement saying he was stepping away to get treatment for a "blood condition." Carrasco had been struggling on the mound before his diagnosis.
For CC Sabathia, it was a final bow. For Michael Brantley, it was welcome back.
Sabathia, who will retire at the end of this season, threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a fitting tribute for the 38-year-old Yankees left-hander who began his career with the Indians in 2001.
One of just 14 pitchers to record 250 career wins and 3,000 strikeouts, Sabathia said he cried when he was traded by the Indians to Milwaukee in 2008 — for Brantley.
"I wanted to stay here," Sabathia said. "It's just one of those cities."
Brantley received a loud ovation when the Houston outfielder was introduced with the other AL players. Brantley spent 10 seasons with the Indians, who elected not to re-sign him as a free agent last winter.
He later gave the AL a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the second.
"I know the relationships that I built here are going to last a lifetime," Brantley said.
Oddly, Brantley and Sabathia had never officially met until this week in Cleveland.
"Crazy, right?" Sabathia said.
Late Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs is being honored at the All-Star Game by two grieving teammates — and all of baseball.
Superstar outfielder Mike Trout and infielder Tommy La Stella are both wearing No. 45 — Skaggs' jersey number — in Tuesday's game. The 27-year-old Skaggs died unexpectedly on July 1. He was found unresponsive in the team's hotel in Texas, hours before the Angels were scheduled to play the Rangers.
"It's been a difficult last couple of days for all of us," Trout said. "Being at the field — at my home — really helps."
A moment of silence was held before the game and players on both squads wore black patches with Skaggs' number in white.
His death sent a shockwave through baseball and deeply affected the Angels. He was one of the team's most popular players, liked by everyone for his engaging personality.
"There is a saying, 'You don't realize what you have until you lose it.' It's spot-on," Trout said. "Everybody needs to take an extra minute to hug your family members and let people know how important they are in your life."
Trout is starting for the AL while La Stella is sidelined with a broken leg. He hobbled to the third-base line on crutches for pregame introductions.
Commissioner Rob Manfred insists Major League Baseball did not make a deal with the Cleveland Indians about banning their contentious logo, Chief Wahoo.
The club agreed to remove the hotly debated, smiling caricature from its caps and jerseys starting this season, a decision that came after Cleveland was awarded the 2019 All-Star Game.
The timing was curious, but Manfred said there was no link between the two.
"The All-Star Game was awarded to Cleveland by Commissioner (Bud) Selig before I even had one conversation about Chief Wahoo," Manfred said. "You can write that as fact."
Although Wahoo, which has been around since the 1940s, is no longer on the field, the mascot is as popular as ever as fans continue to wear all kinds of merchandise bearing his image.
The weather forecast is calling for clear skies and temperatures in the upper 70s at Progressive Field. A perfect night for the All-Star Game — players and fans hope it's not perfect for midges, too.
Midges are tiny, flying insects that live around Lake Erie and swarm when it's warm. They don't bite, but they're pesky. They made their mark on baseball during the 2007 AL Division Series when bunches of the bugs descended on the neck of Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain during Game 2 against Cleveland on a humid October night.
The midges miffed Chamberlain, and the rattled reliever threw two wild pitches in the eighth inning that let the Indians score the tying run. Cleveland won in 11 innings, and won the series in four games.
Just in case anyone forgot, there's a small sticker that serves as a reminder in the windows of the hotel where many Major League Baseball officials and media members are staying this week, a few blocks from the lake.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says "there is no evidence from the scientists that the ball is harder" but says "the drag of the baseball is less."
He says the sport is trying to find out why the drag is less but had not been given answers by scientists.
"Pitchers have raised issues particularly about the tackiness and seams on the baseball and we do believe those could be issues," Manfred tells the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Manfred says "baseball has done nothing, given no direction for an alteration in the baseball."
In the middle of a Major League Baseball season that has seen home runs being hit at a record pace, union head Tony Clark says, "I believe that the ball suddenly changed and I don't know why."
Batters have hit 3,691 homers in 1,345 games, on pace to hit 6,669 over the full season. That would be 19% above last year's 5,558 and 9% over the record 6,105 hit in 2017.
AL All-Star starter Justin Verlander was been among the players most vocal in claiming the ball has changed. Clark tells the Baseball Writers' Association of America the union has received data but no explanations.
Clark and Verlander have questioned whether Major League Baseball has more input into the ball since Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. Inc., which manufactures the ball, was purchased last year by Seidler Equity Partners. Peter Seidler, the San Diego Padres general partner, has chief oversight of all activities of Seidler Equity Partners.
The head of the baseball players' association has detailed the union's goals during collective bargaining, listing the restoration of a "competitive environment" and "meaningful free agency" as aims.
Baseball's labor contracts runs until December 2021, but the sides committed last winter to early talks. Thus far, they met once to discuss the scheduling of future meetings.
Union head Tony Clark says his members want to have "getting players something closer to their value as they are producing it," a reference to the structure that has players getting close to the minimum until they have nearly three years of major league service time, when they become eligible for salary arbitration.
He also says the union wants the "best players on the field at all times," a reference to accusations that clubs hold top prospects in the minor leagues to delay their eligibility for salary arbitration and free agency, which requires six years of service.
Clark also has said rebuilding teams that are noncompetitive hurt the industry.
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