It went from the Bronx Battery to the Votto Mulligan to the World Series Redux, and it predictably set a record in the process.
Back-to-back solo, 10th-inning homers by the Astros’ Alex Bregman and George Springer off the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling powered the American League to an eventual 8-6 victory over the National League in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park. The AL’s sixth straight win in the annual event came courtesy of a seesaw battle that symbolized its time: Homers galore, and strikeouts for everyone, too.
The 10 homers, by 10 different players, destroyed the previous Midsummer Classic record of six. A total of 25 batters struck out, to boot.
Bregman, named the All-Star Game MVP, and Springer bested Stripling’s Dodgers last fall in a seven-game slugfest of a World Series, and while this exhibition no longer decides home-field advantage for the final, this still had to sting a little. Especially since it looked so unlikely that extra innings would even be necessary.
It was the Yankees’ Aaron Judge who launched the festivities by stroking a second-inning homer off NL starter Max Scherzer of the hometown Nationals. The ball traveled into the visitors’ bullpen — and was caught by Judge’s Yankees teammate Luis Severino, of all people, who was warming up to pitch in the bottom of the second.
“I didn’t know it was him,” Severino said of Judge, who became the first Yankee to go deep in an All-Star Game since Jason Giambi in 2003. “After I caught it, I saw who was running. It was cool.”
“That was the best part,” Judge said. “It was meant to be.” Although it had to be pretty cool, too, that the Astros’ Justin Verlander told Judge, as he prepared for his at-bat, “You are going to hit a home run. Be ready.”
Severino said he wasn’t nervous as the ball rapidly approached him at an exit velocity of 101 mph. He explained, “I’m a natural outfielder.” The right-hander, who proceeded to pitch a shutout second in his All-Star Game debut, said he gave the ball to the bullpen catcher for safekeeping.
Before Severino began his work shift, he took a selfie of him and his infielders (the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, the Astros’ Jose Altuve, the Orioles’ Manny Machado and the Indians’ Jose Ramirez) and threw his phone toward the visitors’ dugout. It landed on the dirt, though Severino didn’t seem particularly concerned afterward.
The Angels’ Mike Trout added an insurance homer off the Mets’ Jacob deGrom in the third, yet the Cubs’ Willson Contreras and the Rockies’ Trevor Story tied the game with solo homers in the third and seventh, respectively. That set up the night’s second storyline:
When future Hall of Famer Joey Votto failed to hold onto Jean Segura’s eighth-inning foul pop against the first-base dugout railing, Segura smoked Josh Hader’s very next pitch into the left-field seats for a tie-breaking, three-run homer. Segura appeared set up for Most Valuable Player honors, and the acclaimed Votto had to get the goat’s horns ready.
Alas, this game mimicked last year’s World Series in that the homers never stopped. The Brewers’ Christian Yelich hit a solo shot in the eighth, and in the ninth, Votto’s Reds teammate Scooter Gennett slammed a one-out, two-run, game-tying round-tripper off the Mariners’ Edwin Diaz, sending the game into overtime.
For good measure, Votto hit the game’s final homer in the bottom of the 10th off the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ to close the NL within two.