Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Live from (Watching) the 2009 All-Star Game

Following the rousing success of last year's inaugural People's Phillies Blog All-Star Game coverage, we're back once more. Last year we were treated to a thrilling (and at times embarrassing) game that seemed like it would never end. Of course, the result was familiar with the American League winning yet again. Not that it saved them in the World Series. (Eat it, AL elitists!) Still, it's safe to say it would be considered an upset if the NL won, even in a National League ballpark.

As we go through the introductions, there's a horrifying shot of Ryan Franklin's beard/goatee/whatever. Can we censor that or something?
8:15: Josh Hamilton is introduced. I'm still mad at him for skipping the Home Run Derby. Seriously, how boring was that yesterday? No exciting storylines (even if Hamilton's story was WAY overdone) and Prince Fielder was the only one worth watching at the plate.
8:18: I still can't believe Shane Victorino is an All-Star. Not that he hasn't had a great season, but would anyone really have predicted that? And now he's starting. Crazy world.
8:20: Now the "all-stars among us" are trotted out. I'm sure they're all great people and it's a nice gesture, but I'm none of their moms so I don't really care.
8:27: And now all the players close in on the "all-stars among us" for some kind of super group hug. That just looks awkward. Okay, now that that's done with, can we have some baseball please?
8:31: The Jurassic Park-style theme music! It's back! Oh, how I missed it.
8:47: Is it just me or is there something really weird about the All-Star Game being sponsored by that Orphan movie.
8:48: Apparently Tim Lincecum is sporting a "bionic arm." Sweet, we've got a cyborg on our team. Who knew?
8:52: Not a great start for Lincecum. Ichiro nearly homers on the first pitch, before it goes foul, then he lashes a single to right. Derek Jeter steps in next and gets hit by a pitch. Now Joe Mauer comes up looking to give the AL an early lead.
8:56: Mauer hits the ball less than a foot, as it lands directly in front of the plate. Molina fires to third for one out and David Wright's throw to first was off the mark, so Mauer is safe.
8:57: Teixiera grounds one to Pujols, but he can't handle it. Utley gets to the ball but not in time to stop a run from scoring. AL leads 1-0. Isn't Pujols supposed to be the best fielder on earth? That's what ESPN told me. The error is unacceptable.
8:59: Lincecum finally gets out of the inning, but not before the AL adds another run, making it 2-0. Not a good start if the NL wants to break their all-star slump.
9:05: Halladay faces Utley in a matchup of potential future teammates. However the result is fairly mundane as Utley grounds to first. Now Pujols steps in, hoping to make up for his error.
9:07: Pujols smokes a grounder to third, but Michael Young picks it and throws to first, giving Halladay a 1-2-3 inning. Take notes, young Lincecum.
9:12: Nice battle by Halladay at the plate, but Lincecum strikes him out looking.
9:21: The NL finally gets a hit off Halladay, as Wright gets a broken bat bloop single to center field.
9:22: And Victorino follows with a "real" hit, lining a single to right. Great scoring chance for the NL here, with Molina up now and likely a pinch hitter on deck.
9:23: Molina hits a single up the middle. Wright comes around to score and the throw from Hamilton goes to third, but the throw ricochets off Victorino and he'll also score. Tie game, 2-2. Now Fielder steps in to pinch hit with a runner on second. Fielder slices a ball just barely fair and it bounces into the crowd for a ground rule double. Good thing too because Molina is no guarantee to score from second on a base hit. And with that the NL takes a 3-2 lead.
9:32: Ryan Franklin gets through a scoreless inning and America survives his brutal facial hair...somehow.
9:38: Easy inning for Buerhle, as we're through three innings.
9:52: The pitchers have dominated the last few innings. Zach Greinke just finished off Victorino in a perfect bottom of the fourth inning.
9:59: Crawford singles off Chad Billingsley and Ichiro slaps on to the right side of the infield. Rather than take the easy out at first, Utley turns and fires to second to JUST get Crawford. Heck of a play.
10:01: Now Pujols flashes the leather. He makes a diving stop of a Jeter ground ball and then fires to second for the second out of the inning. Jeter is in safely at first so now Mauer comes up with two outs and one on.
10:04: Mauer rips a double down the left field line and Jeter comes all the way from first to score. Tie game, 3-3.
10:05: Another diving stop by Pujols gets the NL out of the inning, as Teixiera is retired. Great defense by the NL in this half-inning, but it wasn't enough to hold the lead.
10:14: Another inning and another double switch by the NL. It just occurred to me that Charlie Manuel is the perfect manager for the All-Star Game since wasting an entire bench by the ninth inning is a specialty of his.
10:25: Pujols gets a nice ovation as he's pulled for Adrian Gonzalez. After all the hype, Pujols really did nothing at the plate, but at least he made some great plays in the field.
10:35: Brad Hawpe nearly gives the NL a 4-3 lead, ripping Papelbon's first pitch to left, but Crawford snares it, preserving the tie. Great catch. Tejada follows with another first-pitch deep fly ball that is caught at the warning track. Now Jayson Werth steps in for his first action of the day.
10:39: Werth battles but strikes out swinging on a full count, ending the inning.
10:44: Curtis Granderson hits a deep fly ball over Justin Upton's head that bounces off the base of the wall and past Upton, into center field. Werth fields it and fires to third, but not in time, as Granderson slides into third with a one-out triple. Heath Bell is then ordered to intentionally walk Victor Martinez, setting up the double play. However, it won't be an easy one to turn with Adam Jones at the plate.
10:48: Jones hits a long fly ball to right and it's more than deep enough to bring Granderson home, giving the AL a 4-3 lead.
10:52: Heath Bell strikes out Ben Zobrist to finally get out of the inning. We'll see if the NL can rally.
11:01: After Gonzalez draws a 2-out walk off Joe Nathan, Hudson grounds a single up the middle. It skips off Bartlett's glove and Gonzalez makes his way to third. And that brings up St. Louis' own Ryan Howard with a chance to tie the game or give the NL the lead.
11:06: Howard works a 2-2 count but goes down swinging to end the inning. Lame.
11:12: K-Rod gets a 1-2-3 inning thanks to a tremendous running catch from Werth. How about a Phillie and Met teaming up. Doesn't feel right, but I'll take it.
11:20: Tejada pops out to end the game and Rivera gets his record-setting 4th All-Star Game save. Another disappointing performance from the NL, but clearly we don't need homefield advantage to win the World Series, so it's no big loss.

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