MINNEAPOLIS — American League All-Star manager John Farrell got the gig by winning the World Series last year, so he understands the importance of home-field advantage. His Boston Red Sox are 91⁄2 games out, but in this season in the volatile AL East anything is possible, so Farrell was managing to win.
When making the lineup card in that effort, he stacked the man exiting the game atop the youngster currently taking it by storm. Tuesday night at Target Field, it worked: Derek Jeter, in his final All-Star Game, and Mike Trout, in his third of many, gave the AL a 5-3 victory against the National League for its second All-Star Game win in a row.
Trout, 22, went 2 for 3 with a double, a triple, two RBIs and a run scored and was named the MVP. Jeter, 40, went 2 for 2 with a double and a run. Jeter improved to .481 (13 for 27) in his All-Star Game career.
NL manager Mike Matheny faced questions Monday about starting his own pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, instead of Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. He got unlucky. Wainwright, a terrific pitcher, allowed three runs in the first inning. Kershaw entered in the second and retired the side on 11 pitches without allowing anything resembling hard contact.
Trout broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth. After Derek Norris and Alexei Ramirez singled off Pat Neshek, Trout grounded an RBI double down the third-base line. That forced Matheny to replace Neshek with Tyler Clippard. Jose Altuve’s sacrifice fly scored Ramirez and the AL led, 5-3.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen took one pitch before grounding a ball up the middle in the first at-bat of the game off AL starter Felix Hernandez. Jeter dived to his left and stopped the ball, but his throw missed McCutchen by half a step.
McCutchen advanced to second on a wild pitch, then stole third, but was stranded there. He went 1 for 3. “That’s my game,” McCutchen said. “I’m not just one-dimensional.”
Josh Harrison entered in left field in the sixth and went 0 for 2.
Tony Watson entered in the bottom of the eighth and immediately faced MLB home-run leader Jose Abreu. Watson got Abreu to fly out to Harrison on a first-pitch slider before Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, serving as a coach on Matheny’s staff, removed him.
“I’m just glad that [catcher Miguel Montero] put down a slider, not a fastball, because that might have been in the third deck,” Watson said.
When Jeter walked to the plate in the bottom of the first, Wainwright planted his glove on the rubber, took five steps back and started clapping. The Target Field crowd followed suit. Jeter doffed his helmet in acknowledgement. He then drove a leadoff double into the right-field corner.
Jeter singled in the third inning. He took the field for the top of the fourth, but Farrell sent Ramirez out to replace him before the inning began so he could exit to an ovation. He went down a receiving line in the AL dugout, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” playing over the loudspeakers, before a final curtain call.
“He’s an all-around person that you look at and model your game after just because of the type of person, type of player, that he was,” McCutchen said Monday. “He’s the example.”
MLB commissioner Bud Selig said earlier Tuesday that the league had kicked around various ideas for honoring Jeter’s final All-Star Game, but decided against it because they knew that wasn’t what Jeter wanted.
“If you were sitting two decades ago and you said, ‘boy, this is a guy that I want to be the face of baseball, and be what this generation will remember,’ you couldn’t have written a script like this,” Selig said.
In Wainwright’s 19 first-half starts, he allowed three or more runs in three. He equaled that total in the first inning. Trout’s triple off the wall in right scored Jeter. Wainwright struck out Robinson Cano on a curveball, but didn’t get his 0-1 sinker far enough inside to Miguel Cabrera, whose two-run home run gave the AL a 3-0 lead.
Wainwright, pitching in a game that determines home-field advantage in the World Series and in the regular season playing for a team in second place and a game back in the NL Central, told reporters he grooved Jeter a pitch.
“If that’s what he did, that’s what he did,” McCutchen said.
The NL struck back in the second. Consecutive RBI doubles from Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy cut the lead to 3-2.
Dee Gordon pinch-ran for Utley, whom Chris Sale hit with a pitch, with two outs in the fourth. Lucroy doubled off the wall in right-center field to score Gordon and tie the score, 3-3.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published July 15, 2014 11:44 PM