Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber wins MVP honors in front of his hometown crowd as the AL wins its seventh straight All-Star Game, 4-3, against the NL at Progressive Field.
Two players, one who currently plays in Cleveland and another who spent a decade in an Indians uniform, led the American League to a 4-3 win over the National League in the MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field on Tuesday.
Michael Brantley, who spent the first 10 years of his career in Cleveland before signing with the Houston Astros as a free agent in the offseason, received a standing ovation from the Indians fans and then opened the scoring for the AL. In the bottom of the second inning and with Astros teammate Alex Bregman standing on first base, Brantley doubled to the left-center field gap off Clayton Kershaw to score Bregman and give the AL an early 1-0 lead.
It was Brantley’s only at-bat of the game, but the warm reception he got coming back to Cleveland is something he says will stay with him forever.
“I was very emotional. I was trying to hold it together,” he told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal after the game. “To come back in front of these fans that I played in front of for 10 years. I just want to say thank you for their support, thank you for that ovation. It means so much to me and is going to last a lifetime.”
In the fifth inning, it was the turn of a player who still calls Progressive Field home to be a star for the AL. Shane Bieber, making his first All-Star appearance, struck out Willson Contreras, Ketel Marte and Ronald Acuna in order to end the inning. Bieber was named All-Star Game MVP for his performance, the first Indians player to win the award since Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1997, the last time the game was played in Cleveland.
Minnesota Twins’ shortstop Jorge Polanco added to the AL lead in the bottom half of the inning, driving in Gary Sanchez with a single to make it 2-0. After Charlie Blackmon brought the NL back to one run down with a home run in the sixth, the AL scored twice in the seventh inning including a home run by Joey Gallo to make the score 4-1
One member of the hometown team, however, wouldn’t have a great night. Reliever Brad Hand came on to pitch the top of the eighth and needed 33 pitches to get through the inning. He walked two and gave up two hits, the last a single by Pete Alonso, coming off his Home Run Derby title from the night before, that shortstop Gleyber Torres couldn’t handle. Two runs scored on the play, getting the NL back to one run down going to the ninth.
New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman would come on in an attempt to finish off the game. Hearing loud boos from the Cleveland fans, who still vividly remember his performance for the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 World Series, Chapman struck out the side, getting Yasmani Grandal swinging to end the game. In a touching moment, Chapman’s Yankees teammate CC Sabathia came out to the mound with two outs. Sabathia, who is retiring after the season, pitched eight years in Cleveland and got a loud ovation from the crowd.
The win is the seventh in a row for the American League, who have now won 19 of the past 23 All-Star Games. Masahiro Tanaka, who pitched a scoreless frame in the second, was credited with the win while Kershaw was handed the loss.
The 2020 MLB All-Star Game will take place at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles next July 14.