By Chad Stewart
On Tuesday night, the American League defeated the National League in the 87th annual All-Star game by a score of 4-2.
The defending World Champion Kansas City Royals were at the center of the victory. Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer was named Most Valuable Player after going deep in the second inning and driving in another run in the following inning. Royals catcher Salvador Perez also homered in the second.
Mike Trout failed to earn his third consecutive All-Star Game MVP, going 1-for-3, but he did become the first player ever to record a hit in his first plate appearance in five straight All-Star Game appearances.
The NL offense had several missed opportunities throughout the night; the most deflating of which came in the eighth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs for St. Louis shortstop Aledmys Diaz.
Yankee left-hander Andrew Miller began the inning on the mound, but he was only able to record two outs before loading the bases and handing the ball over to Astros closer Will Harris to clean up his mess.
With the help of a generous strike call by the home-plate umpire, Harris pitched his way to a full count. The 3-2 pitch was a 93-mph fastball painted on the outside corner, and all Diaz could do was watch it zoom by him for strike three. Just like that, the threat was over.
Baltimore closer Zach Britton then came in and easily set down the heart of the NL’s lineup, clinching home-field advantage in the World Series for the American League. In other words, games one and two and, if necessary, games six and seven of the 2016 World Series will be played in Anaheim.
After finishing one game out of a spot in the postseason last year, the Angels are primed for a second-half run.
Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, and Tyler Skaggs are all coming into their own, forming one of the best trios of young starters in the league. C.J. Wilson is having another typical year and providing quality innings once again. To top it off, Jered Weaver is having a solid year in what is likely his last year in his long and successful Angels career.
The Angels’ left field woes have finally been solved. Albert Pujols is having his best year as an Angel. C.J. Cron is enjoying a breakout year.
Like in 2014, the Halos’ bullpen is a strength thanks to strong years from setup-man Joe Smith and closer Huston Street.
All of these factors combine to make the Angels a dangerous team in the postseason race.
Heaney just underwent Tommy John surgery, Skaggs is recovering from it, and Richards is attempting to avoid it? Wilson is slated to have season-ending shoulder surgery later this week, and Weaver has been one of the worst pitchers in the league?
The two players who were supposed to form the left-field platoon — Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry — have dealt with injuries all year and have barely played? Pujols is having his least productive year as an Angel? In the middle of his best season yet, Cron broke his hand?
Smith and Street are both in the midst of the worst seasons of their careers, and only two AL teams have worse records than the Angels?
Never mind then.