CLEVELAND – Cleveland pitchers provided two very different, but very emotional, moments for the sellout crowd at Progressive Field to remember about Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
First, Carlos Carrasco, who revealed over the weekend that he has been diagnosed with leukemia, stood on the field with his Indians teammates during the “Stand up to Cancer” moment between innings, holding a sign reading “I stand” — a sight that brought tears to the crowd.
Then Shane Bieber, added to the AL roster just five days ago, whiffed Willson Contreras, Ketel Marte and Ronald Acuna in order in the fifth inning, dominating three NL stars with 95 mph fastballs and knee-bending sliders to create a roar of emotion.
The American League rode that emotion, plus a timely home run by Texas outfielder Joey Gallo, to its seventh consecutive victory over the National League’s All-Stars, 4-3.
Bieber was named Most Valuable Player of the game, just the third player — after Sandy Alomar Jr. in Cleveland in 1997 and Pedro Martinez in Boston in 1999 — ever chosen MVP in his home ballpark.
“I didn’t really know what to think. I kind of lost all feeling in my body” when he was told of the honor, said Bieber, the 14th pitcher ever to strike out the side in an All-Star Game. “Just to be able to do it in front of the home crowd is definitely not something I expected, especially being added to the [roster] five days ago.”
The game included contributions from the Indians’ chief rival in the AL Central, too: Jose Berrios of the Twins pitched a scoreless inning for the second year in a row, and shortstop Jorge Polanco drove in a run with a fifth-inning infield single.
It also marked the 25th AL victory in the last 32 All-Star Games.
“It’s one of the best baseball experiences I’ve ever had in my life,” said AL manager Alex Cora of the Red Sox.
The AL took the lead in the second inning, when longtime Indian and current Astro Michael Brantley delivered a two-out double to left-center that scored his teammate, Alex Bregman. Polanco’s hit made it a two-run lead, but Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon cut it in half with a sixth-inning solo home run off Liam Hendriks.
But the AL widened its lead an inning later, with Oakland’s Matt Chapman scoring on a double play. Then Gallo hit a line drive that carried into the right-field seats, his first All-Star homer.
Chaska native Brad Hand, now a reliever in Cleveland, allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in the eighth inning, but Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman recorded the final three outs for the save.
The game was as memorable for its emotional moments as for the play on the field. Before the game, a moment of silence was held for Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died last week. Both teams wore patches with “45” in his memory.
Carrasco’s appearance as part of the cancer moment was emotional for plenty of players, too. “It was extremely special,” said Bieber. “For him to be doing what he’s doing, spending more time at the Children’s Hospital and spending time with kids, it’s something only he would do.”
And with two outs in the ninth inning, Cora sent Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, who spent 10 seasons with Cleveland, to the mound to confer with Chapman, allowing him to receive a standing ovation as he walked off.
“To have him be an honorary all-star, that was fantastic,” said NL manager Dave Roberts.