Pirates’ Josh Bell collects 1 of NL’s 5 hits in All-Star Game loss
CLEVELAND – Josh Bell has a plan for the next time he faces the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka. He’s just not speaking about it publicly.
If there is a next time, it could be in a World Series.
Until then, Tanaka must live with the fact that Bell got the best of him Tuesday night in the National League’s 4-3 loss to the American League in the All-Star Game at Progressive Field. But the Pittsburgh Pirates’ slugger, who has hit 27 home runs this seasons, did it with legs and hustle as opposed to muscle.
Bell batted twice as the designated hitter, the first time sending a groundball to the Yankees’ D.J. LeMahieu at deep second. He was called out by umpire Brian O’Nora, but the call was reviewed and overturned.
“I definitely felt I was safe,” he said. “Glad we have replay.”
When he was asked what his approach might be the next time he faces Tanaka, Bell was coy.
“I don’t know if I want him to know that,” he said, “but I felt like I missed that curveball away. I definitely don’t want to help him.”
The game was an exhibition, but the American League shifted the infield to the right side against him, anyway.
“I don’t think (the shift) is going anywhere soon unless I lay down a bunt,” Bell said, “which is probably not going to happen.”
Bell grounded out against the White Sox’s Lucas Giolito with a runner on second base to end the fourth inning.
Bell said the pitch was a fastball on the inner half of the plate.
“I think it was a ball,” he said. “Haven’t looked at it yet. Should have stayed away there. He threw a fastball away (on the previous pitch). I should have stayed with that approach. He busted me in and my eyes got big and he took it from me.”
Bell said he enjoyed his first All-Star experience, especially time spent with childhood friend Trevor Story of the Rockies. The two Texans spent much of the night in the dugout, reliving childhood memories, Bell said.
Bell made an out, but at least he didn’t strike out. Nine American League pitchers – one per inning – recorded 16 strikeouts.
“That’s baseball, that’s where it’s going, homers and strikeouts,” Bell said. “Just part of the game.”
The Indians’ Shane Bieber, who struck out the side in the fifth to the delight of the announced crowd of 36,747, was named Ted Williams All-Star Game MVP. He’s the first pitcher so honored since the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera in 2013 and the third player named MVP in his home ballpark. He joined the Red Sox’s Pedro Martinez in Fenway Park in 1999 and the Indians’ Sandy Alomar Jr. at Progressive in 1997.
The National League managed only five hits, including a home run by the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon in the sixth and a two-run single by Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso of the Mets in the eighth.
The American League took a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh on a double-play grounder by the Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts and a home run by the Rangers’ Joey Gallo into the right-field seats.
Gallo’s was the hardest hit of the night, leaving his bat at 111.5 mph.
National League manager Dave Roberts of the Dodgers called on the Giants’ Will Smith to pitch to Gallo, a relief to Pirates’ closer Felipe Vazquez. Gallo homered off Vazquez on April 30 in Texas.
“I was scared, oh, here we go again,” Vazquez said. “I thought, `He’s going to call on me,’ but he called Smith. I felt a little relief.”
Vazquez never got in the game, but he said he might have pitched the 10th inning, if necessary.
“It’s all good,” he said. “One of us got in. Josh represented us. I’m happy for him.”
Bell wasn’t pleased with the loss, but it was the seventh in a row by the American League, which owns a 25-6-1 record in the past 32 All-Star Games.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .