World Series champions change. Stadiums change. Stars of the game change.
Baseball’s All-Star Game winner is always the same. On a night to savor defense and relief pitching, Carl Crawford pulled back a home run with a leaping grab an inning before Curtis Granderson tripled and scored the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning. That boosted the American League to a 4-3 victory Tuesday night at new Busch Stadium, its seventh straight win since the All-Star Game has been used to determine home-field advantage for the World Series.
“We came here on a mission and the mission was accomplished,” said Mariano Rivera, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his record fourth All-Star save, breaking a tie with Dennis Eckersley.
The home-field advantage innovation began after 2002’s 7-7, 11-inning tie at Milwaukee. The AL is 12-0-1 since its 1996 defeat at Philadelphia — the longest unbeaten streak in All-Star history.
“It is so important to get home-field advantage in the World Series,” said Tampa Bay’s Joe Maddon, the AL manager. “So there was a lot on the line there today.”
Not even President Barack Obama‘s ceremonial first pitch helped the NL, which had been 4-0 previously when sitting presidents threw out the first offering. The NL scored all its runs in the second inning, and 22 of its last 24 batters made an out. Despite starting the World Series on the road last year, Philadelphia beat the Rays in five games for the title. Jayson Werth, who ran down Justin Morneau‘s drive to deep left-center off Francisco Rodriguez to end the ninth, took solace from that.
“Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to overcome that obstacle again this year,” he said.Crawford entered with a pinch single in the fifth and jumped at the 8-foot left-field wall to snare Brad Hawpe‘s leadoff drive in the seventh off winner Jonathan Papelbon, which would have put the NL ahead 4-3.For the NL, that was typical. Somehow, it finds a way to lose. “I still don’t think there’s a good answer for it,” Hawpe said. Crawford became the first non-pitcher to win the MVP with no RBIs since Willie Mays in 1968.