NEW YORK (AP) — Adam Jones swung right through the second straight pitch from Aroldis Chapman that topped 100 mph, then walked back to the American League dugout with a smile on his face.
“That was fun. First pitch curveball? C’mon,” Jones said Tuesday night after the AL won the All-Star game 3-0. “He throws a hundred miles an hour. He threw me two 101 mph and he threw me a first-pitch curveball. Respect.”
Facing Matt Harvey’s 98 mph fastball in a 10-pitch at-bat — another strikeout — in the second inning must’ve seen downright fair compared to looking silly against Chapman.
“Everybody that toed the rubber looked good,” Jones said.
Dustin Pedroia shook his head when he struck out looking against 21-year-old Jose Fernandez on a 96 mph fastball. Baseball’s batting leader Miguel Cabrera couldn’t handle the three 98 mph pitches he saw from Fernandez, popping out into foul territory.
Home run leader Chris Davis was overmatched, too — by Harvey, a fellow first-time All-Star. Davis popped up to center field after swinging at a 98 mph four-seamer and then letting a 99 mph fastball zip by for a strike.
“The guy’s got electric stuff,” Davis said.
In all, the pitchers made the Midsummer Classic a showcase for the high-heat hurlers. Eighteen pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts. The NL managed only three hits, the AL nine.
Closer Joe Nathan used to be considered one of the hard-throwing guys. Now he’s not so sure.
“You see the arms on both sides, guys throwing 100 mph,” said Nathan, who reached 94 in the ninth. “I’m below the hitting speed now.”
TRADE BAIT: With the trade deadline approaching at the end of the month, several top contenders could be in the market for a reliable closer. No wonder Glen Perkins may be in high demand.
Not only does he have 21 saves and a 1.82 ERA, he’s struck out 47 and walked just seven in 34 2-3 innings. Plus, he’s a lefty.
That’s why Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan said last weekend at Yankee Stadium that almost any team would love to have Perkins, and it will be difficult to pry him away from the struggling Twins. But that doesn’t mean Perkins, an All-Star for the first time this season, isn’t aware of speculation that he could be moved within the next two weeks.
“I guess I pay attention to it. I don’t take it for anything of value, I guess,” he said. “I guess I learned last year, it was kind of the same story and nothing happened. I mean, I want to be a Twin, so I guess that’s all I can do is go out and try to perform for them.”
The 30-year-old Perkins has a contract that guarantees him at least $10.3 million from 2013-15.
“I guess it’s more stuff that you think about when you’re not at the field or when you’re not in a game,” he said about the trade rumors. “When I’m out there pitching, I’m not thinking that I’m auditioning or anything like that. So you kind of just go about your business and if something happens, it happens.”
CLOSING TIME: Joe Nathan never expected to be pitching for a save. Not with baseball’s career saves leader alongside him in the bullpen.
The Rangers closer was called upon to finish off the American League’s 3-0 win Tuesday night in the All-Star game at Citi Field after Mariano Rivera came on for the eighth inning.
“I didn’t know I was coming in to close until I was actually coming in from the bullpen,” Nathan said.
No slouch of a stopper himself, Nathan has 328 saves for Minnesota, Texas and San Francisco in a 13-year career. He has 30 this season — the same as Mo.
But everyone in the bullpen was ready to defer to Rivera on this night.
The six-time All-Star struck out Matt Carpenter looking and Andrew McCutchen swinging before Paul Goldschmidt doubled. Nathan then retired fellow New York native Pedro Alvarez on a popup to second base.
After the final out, Nathan got the game ball but he knew it didn’t belong to him. He gave it to Mo.
“No brainer. I wanted it, but I wanted to give it to him more,” Nathan said. “Outstanding to be able to hand the ball over to him. No secret how much I look up to him and to be able to do that for him was awesome.”
BACK IN A NEW YORK GROOVE? Carlos Beltran broke free from a crowd and gave New York Mets manager Terry Collins a big hug.
“My man!” said Collins, one of the National League coaches.
Enjoying another fine season for St. Louis, the 36-year-old Beltran was back at Citi Field after spending 6 1/2 seasons with the Mets from 2005-11. He signed a $119 million, seven-year contract to come to New York and put up some big numbers when healthy.
In the final year of his deal, he was traded to San Francisco for elite pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, off to a promising start in his first five major league outings this season.
“When I got traded from here, I wasn’t hurt. I was having a good year for the Mets. But at the end of the day, I knew that it was going to be time for the team to try to move me and I understood that,” Beltran said.
After the 2011 season, Beltran signed a $26 million, two-year deal with the Cardinals and has made the All-Star team each of the past two years. He was in the starting lineup Tuesday night, batting second and playing right field.
“I just needed to put myself back into being healthy. I knew that I could play this game better than people expected,” he said.
An eight-time All-Star, Beltran can become a free agent again after this season. And guess who is in desperate need of a proven outfielder with power? That’s right, the Mets.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think the Mets are going to go for it, but honestly, I would consider anything,” Beltran said. “I just need to find out what the interest is in the market.”
CANO, CANO: Miguel Cabrera flung his bat into the stands when he swung and missed at a pitch from Patrick Corbin in the fourth inning. The flying bat nearly hit a child wearing, yup, a Robinson Cano Yankees jersey.
The real Cano had less luck than the boy. He was hit on the right leg by a pitch from Matt Harvey in the first inning and had to come out of the game.
“It’s a little tight, I came out of the game because I didn’t want to aggravate it,” he said. “Nothing bad. They told me it’s a bruise, and ice the next few days.”
TORII TIME: Torii Hunter was an All-Star rookie in 2002 when he robbed Barry Bonds of a home run and got a big bear hug from the slugger on the field. Now he’s a veteran voice in a clubhouse with a record number of newcomers.
The always-loquacious, ever-smiling 37-year-old Detroit Tigers outfielder is enjoying his role as a five-time All-Star selection.
With possible suspensions from the Biogenesis investigation looming over the game, Hunter defended Alex Rodriguez and other players who have been implicated in drug scandals over the years.
“I know how hard this game really is. I don’t care what they did or who did or whatever, Barry Bonds all those guys,” Hunter said Tuesday before the game at Citi Field. “Still impressive to hit. Still got to hit the ball.”
On the lighter side, Hunter has his favorite All-Stars. Wacky All-Stars, that is.
“David Ortiz, for sure, craziest forever. He sits here and holds court and tells all the jokes,” Hunter said. “He is one of the funniest guys in All-Star game history.”
There’s also: “Ichiro (Suzuki). Manny (Ramirez). Ah, Manny. Forgot about Manny. Ooh, boy he was crazy. Can’t tell you the stories. Pedro (Martinez) was funny. He put bubble gum in everybody’s hats.”
“You got to have fun in this clubhouse,” he added. “This is how we relax.”
The one player he is certain isn’t crazy: Yankees injured shortstop Derek Jeter.
“Jeter’s smooth. He’s like a cold drink of water. Too cool for school,” Hunter said.
So what did Bonds say to Hunter 11 years ago when he scooped him up near second base in Milwaukee?
“Good catch kid, high five,”‘ Hunter said “I went high, he went low and picked me up. I tried to hold him down. Too strong.”
EXTRA BASES: During pregame introductions, the PA announcer confused Tampa Bay teammates Ben Zobrist and Matt Moore. The two laughed about it. … Twins closer Glen Perkins talking to teammate Joe Mauer and Yankees 2B Robinson Cano: “You are the same,” he said, pointing at each player, “I can’t get you out.” … Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He lined up on the rubber, then shuffled forward a few steps to laughs before throwing a wild one to Mets third baseman David Wright. … MLB honored 30 military veterans who were winners of “Tribute for Heroes” campaign. All-Stars including Mariano Rivera gave the veterans flags. Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays presented the flag of Canada to a Canadian Forces veteran. … Cleveland’s Justin Masterson pushed the wheelchair of the veteran he was paired with off the field. Zobrist was matched with a vet and his dog.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)