Pirates relish victory in All-Star Game
PHOENIX — The Pirates arrived late and contributed only a little to the 82nd All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Chase Field, but they apparently loved every minute of the National League’s 5-1 victory over the American League.
Even the part where Prince Fielder of the nemesis Milwaukee Brewers slugged a three-run home run to take MVP honors.
“It’s all about winning,” center fielder Andrew McCutchen said, with Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks at the next stall. “That was a good feeling. I really enjoyed this, man.”
“It was a great game, a lot of fun to be part of it,” closer Joel Hanrahan said. “I think all of us felt that way.”
McCutchen and Hanrahan were late-inning substitutes, McCutchen going 0 for 1 and Hanrahan recording one out. Pitcher Kevin Correia, the Pirates’ third representative, did not play.
McCutchen entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement and bounced a check-swing comebacker to lead off the eighth.
“I don’t know what that was,” McCutchen said.
“Nah, I wasn’t nervous,” he said. “It’s just baseball.”
Hanrahan, despite being 26 for 26 in saves for the Pirates, acknowledged the opposite feeling when he took the ball for the ninth and had to hold a four-run lead.
“That’s probably the most nervous I’ve been in a game,” Hanrahan said, laughing. “My legs were shaking. I’m just thinking, ‘Don’t screw this up.’ ”
San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy, the National League manager, had said he would use his own closer, Brian Wilson, in a save situation. So his call with a four-run lead was for Hanrahan.
Hanrahan came out firing bullets and struck out Texas’ Michael Young checking his swing on a slider right after a 98-mph fastball. But some rotten luck followed: Hanrahan got ahead of the Chicago White Sox’s Carlos Quentin, 1-2, but Quentin reached on a two-base throwing error by the Chicago Cubs’ Starlin Castro. Tampa Bay’s Matt Joyce lined a single to right, and a throwing error allowed him to move up, too.
With runners at second and third and a save opportunity available, Bochy turned to Wilson. A flyout and groundout later, the 27th out was at hand.
“I was pretty amped up,” Hanrahan said. “But that’s OK. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
The National League has won two in a row after that 13-year losing streak, and the senior circuit leads the all-time series, 42-38-2. That also will give home-field advantage in the World Series to the National League pennant winner.
The scoring opened with a splash in the fourth, when Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez homered — a first for anyone in three All-Star Games — toward the swimming pool beyond right-center.
But the National League rebounded in the bottom half when Fielder waited out a 2-2 fastball from Texas’ C.J. Wilson, then drilled it to the deepest part of the park, over the 413-foot mark in left-center.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I’d hit it that far,” Fielder said. “I saw Curtis Granderson running back there like he had a chance. It was a great feeling when it went over.”
The National League’s pitching — the opponents had only five hits — began with Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay throwing two perfect innings, the first to open an All-Star Game that way since Roger Clemens in 2001.
It ended with Wilson, the same way the Giants’ World Series victory ended. And the closer known as “The Beard” for that jet-black facial hair offered quite the complement to the pitcher who preceded him on this night.
“He’s arguably the best closer in the game,” Wilson said of Hanrahan. “I think they’ve got a special team over there, and I hope people know that. There’s a lot of young talent. Their starters are doing well, and they’re handing the ball to him.”
Wilson motioned toward Hanrahan’s stall.
“Once he gets it, the game’s over with.”