Pat Neshek was the losing pitcher in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, but the Park Center graduate and former Twins reliever tried not to let that sour his whole experience.
“It wasn’t so much nerves,” Neshek said. “I was actually really relaxed, and I think that might have been the problem.
“My stuff was terrible. My fastball was barely breaking 90 [miles per hour] out there, and it just felt weird out there. I’m kind of glad to get that out of my system. It stunk. There’s a lot on the line, but you’re going to have those days.”
Neshek got a huge ovation during pregame introductions and later said, “That was probably one of the highlights of my career.”
With the score tied 3-3 in the fifth, National League manager Mike Matheny turned to Neshek, who has posted a 0.70 ERA in 43 appearances for him this season with St. Louis. Neshek had given up just one run since April 9.
“I can’t imagine a guy being more amped to be here,” Matheny said. “Everything considered, that was a big, big deal and tough situation to throw him into. But he has been in those all year.”
Neshek got the first out, thanks to a diving stop by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. But the next three batters — Derek Norris, Alexei Ramirez and Mike Trout — all got base hits before Matheny summoned reliever Tyler Clippard.
Neshek will head back to St. Louis, where the Cardinals face the Dodgers on Friday.
“We’ll take it slow, drive through Iowa … maybe stop at Field of Dreams and stuff like that,” Neshek said. “Just enjoy the time off.”
The pregame ceremony had the usual All-Star Game pomp and circumstance, with some stirring Minnesota twists.
During player introductions, in 72-degree, sun-splashed weather, the sellout crowd at Target Field gave its loudest cheers to current Twins Kurt Suzuki and Glen Perkins; former Twins Neshek and Carlos Gomez; and Derek Jeter.
Broadway singer Idina Menzel belted out Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” and then members of the Minnesota Orchestra played “Oh Canada.” Next, a huge American flag was unfurled over the outfield, and six F-16s buzzed the top of Target Field as Menzel belted out the final bars of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Hall of Famer Rod Carew threw the ceremonial first pitch to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
Jeff Samardzija got introduced with the National League All-Stars and then spent the game in the American League dugout, cheering for that side.
Samardzija switched leagues when got he traded from the Cubs to the Athletics on July 5. Samardzija went 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA in 17 starts for the Cubs before the trade, and NL players voted him onto the All-Star team.
But rather than throwing him into a game to determine home-field advantage in the World Series, MLB put Samardzija on the inactive list for the All-Star Game.