Pirates' McCutchen starts All-Star Game in style; AL tops NL
MINNEAPOLIS — No matter what the Pirates do between now and October, the World Series will not open at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen led off the All-Star Game with a hit, but the National League never led, falling 5-3 to the American League at Target Field and giving the junior circuit home-field advantage in the World Series.
McCutchen went 1 for 3 and played five innings in center field, but the night belonged to the AL and specifically to retiring shortstop Derek Jeter. The Yankees veteran went 2 for 2 with a double and a single, scored the game's first run and had more standing ovations than hits.
Angels outfielder Mike Trout was the game's MVP.
Pirates utility player Josh Harrison played three innings in left field and went 0 for 2. Reliever Tony Watson came on in the eighth inning, throwing one pitch to get White Sox rookie Jose Abreu to fly out to Harrison.
McCutchen led off the game with hard grounder that Jeter snapped up with a diving grab. Jeter fired to Detroit's Miguel Cabrera at first, but McCutchen's speed allowed him to beat the throw in a close play.
McCutchen went to second on a wild pitch then stole third with two outs. But he was stranded there when Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt's broken bat bouncer to third ended the inning.
“That's my game,” McCutchen said of showing off his speed. “I'm not just one-dimensional. I can do a lot, and I was able to showcase a little of that today.”
Jeter led off for the AL, introduced by a lengthy standing ovation and a tape of late Yankees public address man Bob Sheppard calling his name and number. Jeter responded by ripping the second pitch he faced into the right-field corner for a stand-up double. Trout then hit a run-scoring triple off the right-field wall.
With one out, Cabrera blasted an 0-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers for a 3-0 AL lead.
The NL got a pair of runs back in the second, and McCutchen had an opportunity to tie the score when he came up with two outs and Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy on second.
“Of course I'm not satisfied with the result. We lost,” McCutchen said. “But it was a good game on both ends. They got some big hits from some big guys. We had some chances we weren't able to key. But that's the All-Star Game. We knew it was going to be close.”
But Boston left-hander Jon Lester coaxed McCutchen into sending an 0-2 pitch quietly into center for the third out.
Jeter got another hit to lead off the third, doubling to right. He received another standing ovation when he left the game in the fourth, taking a curtain call as Frank Sinatra's classic “New York, New York” echoed throughout the ballpark.
The NL tied it 3-3 with two outs in the fourth.
Chase Utley was hit by a pitch, and pinch runner Dee Gordon scored from first on a Lucroy double off the right-field wall. But with Minnesota native Pat Neshek of the Cardinals on the mound in the fifth, the AL scored a pair, and another Minnesotan — Twins reliever Glen Perkins — came on to get the save in the ninth, striking out Harrison in the process.
“That's baseball,” Harrison said. “I've been in hostile situations and playoff baseball. That's just the way it is. It was a good welcome, but it wasn't anything I was thinking about.”
Neshek took the loss. Detroit's Max Scherzer was awarded the win after pitching a scoreless fifth.
“It was very cool,” Watson said of his lone pitch. “They told me I was only going to have the first hitter, so I wanted to go out there and just have fun with it.”
Jess Myers is a freelance writer.