All-Star Game Notebook: Unlikely hero ends NL’s skid

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On a team featuring MVP candidates Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman, sluggers Matt Olson and Pete Alonso, and Rookie of the Year front-runner Corbin Carroll, Colorado Rockies catcher Elias Diaz was the hero the National League All-Stars needed to end a nine-year skid.

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Diaz, a first-time All-Star, blasted a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning on Tuesday night to send the NL team to its first All-Star Game victory since 2012.

The American League squad entered this year’s Midsummer Classic having outscored the NL 40-22 during its streak. The All-Star Game was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

–Diaz went deep in the first All-Star Game at-bat of his career, becoming the 24th player to accomplish the feat, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz also went deep in his first career ASG at-bat on Tuesday, pulling a 383-foot homer to left in the second inning to give the AL an early 1-0 lead.

–AL outfielders Adolis Garcia and Randy Arozarena wasted no time making the highlight reel. Ronald Acuna Jr. opened the game with a sharp fly ball to right, but Garcia battled the sun and made a leaping grab up against the wall. Freddie Freeman then sent a ball deep to left, where Arozarena made a web gem of his own at the wall.

–In the fifth, NL manager Rob Thomson turned to an all-Atlanta Braves infield consisting of first baseman Matt Olson, second baseman Ozzie Albies, third baseman Austin Riley and shortstop Orlando Arcia.

–With the NL trailing 2-1 in the top of the seventh, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. seemed to tie the game with a home run down the left field line off Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano. Gurriel’s blast was ruled foul upon review, keeping the AL in the lead.

–Romano was tended to on the mound during the review and exited with a trainer after just five pitches.

“(Romano) threw his last pitch in the bullpen before he went out there (and) just felt a little tightness in his lower back,” AL manager Dusty Baker said on the FOX broadcast of the game. “We got to take every precaution and take care of these players.”

–Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez received a roaring ovation from the home crowd in the bottom of the seventh as he stepped up to the plate for the first time. He ended up striking out.

He batted again in the ninth against Philadelphia Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel after a two-out walk to the Astros’ Kyle Tucker. With the crowd chanting his name, Rodriguez ended up working a walk of his own before Kimbrel fanned the Cleveland Guardians’ Jose Ramirez to end the game.

–Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani went 0-for-1 with a strikeout and a walk. He did not pitch. Ohtani has been dealing with a blister on the middle finger of his right hand, an ailment that stems from a cracked fingernail that forced him out of a game against the Chicago White Sox on June 27.

“Little hiccups here and there with the finger, but other than that I’m really healthy,” Ohtani said through a translator during the broadcast. “Just trying to stay healthy and end the season strong.”

–Field Level Media

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