LOS ANGELES: Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Minnesota’s Byron Buxton hit back-to-back home runs to key the American League’s 3-2 victory in the 92nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday. Stanton, who has 24 homers in the first half of the season, belted a 457-foot game-tying two-run home run off Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin in the top of the fourth. It flew into the Dodger Stadium bleachers left of center field-right about where Los Angeles native Stanton used to sit as a youngster when he could find a way to scare up a ticket to a Dodgers game.
“To hit one out there is incredible,” said Stanton, whose flock of friends and family in attendance included the man who taught him to love the game, his father, Mike. “My Pops took me to my first Dodger game, showed me how have love for this game and now we’re here,” Stanton, a five-time All-Star, said as he accepted the All-Star Most Valuable Player trophy. “So it’s just incredible.”
Buxton, playing in his first All-Star Game, said Stanton’s monster effort didn’t exactly have him thinking about making it the first back-to-back homers in an All-Star Game since 2018. “I kind of just went up there and I was like I can’t strike out twice,” Buxton said. “The back of your head you’ve always got that thought, your first All-Star Game, you want to get up there and just get a base hit-and I put a better swing on it than I thought.”
The three-run inning gave the American League a 3-2 lead and the AL’s pitchers made it stand up. Cleveland hurler Emmanuel Clase struck out three in the ninth to end it. Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. had led off the bottom of the first with a double down the left field line and scored when the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts singled off American League starting pitcher Shane McClanahan of Tampa Bay. Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt then added a solo homer to put the National League up 2-0 after one inning.
In the first All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium since 1980, the Dodgers’ three-time Cy Young Award-winner Clayton Kershaw opened the game on the mound for the National League under the eyes of a sell-out crowd of 52,518. The raft of celebrities in attendance included such Hollywood stars as Denzel Washington and Jon Hamm as well as former Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson, tennis legend Billie Jean King and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
But it was Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani who made an immediate impression with a single on the first pitch that Kershaw threw. “He didn’t hit it over the fence, so it was a win and we can move on,” said Kershaw, who knew Ohtani was going to swing at the first pitch. “You kind of had to give him a heater there. Had to do it.”
Shortly thereafter, when Ohtani strayed cheekily far from first base during Aaron Judge’s at-bat, Kershaw picked him off-the first pick-off in the All-Star game since 2008. Kersahw struck out Yankees star Judge and after walking Rafael Devers retired Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to end his lone inning of the contest. “I tried to take it all in right before,” said Kershaw, the 34-year-old hurler who has played his entire 15-year MLB career for the Dodgers and became just the 13th pitcher to open the midseason showcase in his home ballpark. “It was just awesome.” – AFP