SAN DIEGO (AP) – Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez made sure the Kansas City Royals will start at home, sweet, home if they get a chance to defend their World Series title.
The Royals duo homered off former Kansas City teammate Johnny Cueto during a six-pitch span in the second inning, Hosmer added an RBI single and the American League beat the Nationals 4-2 Tuesday night for their fourth straight win in the All-Star game.
David Ortiz found himself in the middle of the most touching moment at Petco Park, embraced by his AL teammates near first base after exiting his final All-Star Game. The popular Big Papi plans to retire at 40 after this season with Boston.
Kris Bryant of the Cubs led the parade of sparkling young talent with a first-inning home run. Dellin Betances flashed his 100 mph heat and Astros reliever Will Harris came on to throw a called third strike past Cardinals rookie Aledmys Diaz on a 3-2 pitch on the outside corner with the bases loaded to end the eighth.
Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera pitched a hitless sixth for the AL, which will open the Series at home for the 11th time in 14 years since the All-Star winner was used to determine the hosts for Games 1 and 2.
Kansas City became baseball royalty last fall, bursting to a 2-0 lead over the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium, where Cueto pitched a two-hitter in the second game. The Royals won in five games for their first title since 1985.
This year, Kansas City is languishing at 45-43, seven games off the AL Central lead and in the middle of the wild-card race as attention turns to which teams will be buyers and sellers as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches.
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber pitched a 1-2-3 second inning for the win, and Zach Britton got the save for the AL, which cut its deficit to 43-42 with two ties
Ortiz, Boston’s beloved designated hitter, wore spikes with gold-colored bottoms and matching batting gloves to mark his 10th All-Star selection and delivered the AL batting order to umpires at home plate.
Ortiz hit a smash down the first-base line that Anthony Rizzo snagged to rob him of a potential RBI double in the first and walked against Jose Fernandez in the third.
When Edwin Encarnacion came out to pinch run for him, Ortiz waved to the crowd and then spent his AL teammates came out of the dugout to exchange hugs as the crowd of 42,386 rose in tribute.
“I was supposed to hit a home run in my second at-bat. My boy told me he was going to throw me a fastball, and the first pitch was a changeup,” Ortiz said.
“Then 3-2 he threw me a slider and I’m like, “Are you trying to break my back?” But he said it was the catcher’s fault.”
Fernandez admitted “I couldn’t believe that I was actually pitching to him. We both looked at each other and smiled.”
“He signed the jersey I brought for him,” the 23-year-old Miami Marlins ace said.
Ortiz delivered a pregame speech to his mates.
“You don’t get here with a good name or a good family,” he said. “You have to put up the numbers. I told them that they have to do that for their whole career.”
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