All-star game to remember

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

NEW YORK -- Not that it was getting real late, real early yesterday morning, as philosopher Yogi Berra might have said, but ...

Commissioner Bud Selig's stomach was flip-flopping, as he must have been fearing a repeat of the embarrassing debacle in Milwaukee in which the 2002 all-star game ended in a 7-7, 11-inning tie.

Both the American and National League were down to their final pitchers yesterday morn.

These all-stars hitters, who make a living hitting hanging curve balls and mistakes, popped up pitches with men on, or swung and missed. The two sides combined to strike out 34 times.

The AL brought in Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir in the top of the 15th inning. The NL used Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge in the bottom of the 15th.

HOURS, NOT PITCHES

What kind of a pitch count did AL manager Terry Francona have for Kazmir?

"We were gonna go on hours, not pitches," Francona said jokingly.

And Lidge?

"We might have been able to get one more inning out of Brad. We had him warming five times," NL manager Clint Hurdle said.

And after Lidge worked that theoretical 16th, it would have been third baseman David Wright, who had not pitched since Little League.

"I told David: 'You were the last pick. I went and got you. Have you ever pitched in an all-star game?' " Hurdle explained. " 'You wanted to be in this, it's all I've read for three days. You won't believe how much you might be in here real quick.' "

According to Francona, outfielder J.D. Drew was the next option for the AL after Kazmir, who threw 104 pitches Sunday.

"I'd have been ready," Drew said, "if Terry had asked me go out there I'd have thrown some stuff up there, I don't know whether I'd have gotten anyone out."

Drew hit a two-run homer, a single and earned most valuable player honours. He hadn't pitched since high school.

How about that, as Mel Allen used to say.

It could have been Wright pitching to Drew and vice versa.

As marathons go, it was the longest all-star game going by the clock, lasting four hours and 50 minutes.

The 15 innings equalled the 1967 game, which was won by the NL when Tony Perez homered in Anaheim.

Hall of Famer Perez was on the field at Yankee Stadium before the game. Others who played in the 1967 game and were part of the pre-game ceremony included Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, Ernie Banks, Bob Gibson, Fergie Jenkins of Chatham, Ont., Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Rod Carew, Al Kaline, Brooks Robinson, Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson.

As a band named Futility played on into the night, the AL stranded 17 (3-for-22 with men in scoring position) and the NL 11 (hitless in six at-bats).

That all-star hitting when it counted was .107 (3-for-28).

"Some of the situations we had none out and we couldn't score," Drew said.

Ah yes, the terrible 10th. Michael Young reached on an error by Dan Uggla. Then, Carlos Quentin reached as Uggla allowed a room-service double play ball to go through his legs. Hurdle came to the mound to meet his pitcher and infielders -- not to take out Uggla -- to tell Aaron Cook to walk Carlos Guillen intentionally.

Then Cook made like Houdini, escaping the none-out jam by getting Grady Sizemore to ground out, with Uggla throwing home for the force, then Evan Longoria to bounce to Cristian Guzman, who also threw home. With two out Miguel Tejada charged a roller, his throw barely beating Justin Morneau at first.

In the 13th, Drew reached on another Uggla error. The Marlins second baseman had seven chances and three clanks.

How stressful were the final few innings?

"I had acne on my forehead," Francona said. "I told Jim Leyland (if we win) I'll quit cursing, I'll quit chewing. I lied."

It was a heck of a game, with that 10th-inning jam, and a play in the 11th when NL outfielder Nate McLouth threw out a runner at the plate on Young's single, as Russell Martin fielded a short hop and applied the tag.

"If we played 16 or 17 innings to a tie, who would have complained?" Young asked.

Yes, but home-field advantage in the World Series was at stake.

"Well," Young said, "we could have done rock, paper, scissors."

The thought of Wright and Drew pitching to settle the all-star game is equally as bad as another tie.

Young ended it with his fly ball ... just far enough.


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