NEW YORK — Oh, it’s all fun and games when you’re hitting off your father or some coach you brought along.
The sluggers had their day Monday during the annual Home Run Derby. Pitching dominated the All-Star Game once again as the American League held the National League to just three hits in a 3-0 victory Tuesday night at Citi Field.
Ten AL pitchers — including Mariano Rivera in his final All-Star appearance — nearly tied the record for the lowest-hit game in All-Star Game history. Paul Goldschmidt’s two-out double in the ninth inning prevented them from matching the two-hitter thrown by the AL against the NL at Wrigley Field in 1990. The shutout was the American League’s first of the National League since that game.
“Shoot, man — in the All-Star Game? You’re basically lucky to get a hit,” Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said. “You might as well close your eyes and swing. You’re talking about the best pitchers in both leagues. Now you see what I deal with every night. You have all these young guys coming in, throwing 98, 99 (mph). You get one who throws 92 and you’re, ‘Thank you.’
“Good pitching beats good hitting. Every. Time.”
The combined total of 12 hits in Tuesday’s game (the fewest since the stars had just 11 at Safeco Field in 2001) threatened that record as well. The stars combined for just eight hits at the Astrodome in 1968.
Angels outfielder Mike Trout had the first of those hits, lining a double down the right-field line on the first pitch of the game. He joined Hall of Famer Al Kaline as the only players to have hits in two All-Star Games before turning 22. Trout was 1 for 1 with a single and a walk at Kauffman Stadium in last year’s All-Star Game. He finished this year’s 1 for 3 with that leadoff double, playing seven innings (the longest any AL starter was left in the game).
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw pitched a perfect third inning for the NL stars, following starter Matt Harvey to the mound. It was Kershaw’s third consecutive scoreless appearance in the All-Star Game, matching Fernando Valenzuela (1984-86) in the Dodgers’ record book.
“I guess we (pitchers) have a little bit of an advantage because they’re seeing a different guy every inning,” Kershaw said. “But there are some pretty good hitters out there.”
Kershaw’s inning extended the AL’s scoreless streak in All-Star Games to 17 innings, stretching to 2011 at Chase Field in Arizona. It ended an inning later when Miguel Cabrera doubled off Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin, moved to third on a single by Chris Davis and scored on Jose Bautista’s sacrifice fly.
The AL added single runs in the fifth (when Adam Jones led off with a double) and eighth (when Jason Kipnis drove in the run with a double).
Meanwhile, the first 10 NL batters were retired in order by Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez before Carlos Beltran broke up the perfect game with a single to left off Hernandez.
The National League’s only other hit until the ninth was a seventh-inning single by Mets third baseman David Wright.
“It was unbelievable,” Scherzer said of the pitching performance. “That just shows the quality of the arms in the American League.”
The win for the AL ended a three-year winning streak for the NL stars and gives it home-field advantage in the World Series for the first time since 2009.