All-Star Rapid Reaction: NL 8, AL 0
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Justin Verlander gave up five runs in the first inning and Matt Harrison gave up three more in the fourth and the AL never did manage to mount any sort of comeback, falling 8-0 to the National League on Tuesday night. The Rangers as a team had just one hit -- by Mike Napoli when Bryce Harper lost a ball in the lights. Some quick thoughts on the game:
What it means: If the Rangers advance to a third consecutive World Series, they'll start on the road just like in the other two (losses to San Francisco and St. Louis, in case you needed reminding).
Nathan gets 1-2-3 inning: Joe Nathan came into Tuesday's game earlier than expected, replacing Justin Verlander to start the second inning, and needed just eight pitches (seven strikes) to get through a perfect frame. Verlander allowed five runs on four hits in the first and faced all nine NL hitters, needing 35 pitches. He was supposed to go two innings. Instead, manager Ron Washington went to his closer to bridge the gap to David Price, who was scheduled to pitch in the third (and did). ... Nathan benefitted from some great defense as Jose Bautista made a diving catch in shallow right field to rob Ryan Braun of a hit.
Napoli gets hit, strikes out: Catcher Mike Napoli faced a familiar foe in Washington pitcher (and former Oakland A's hurler) Gio Gonzalez to lead off the third. Napoli struck out on an 0-2 curve ball. Napoli had 86 strikeouts in the first half of the regular season, tied with teammate Nelson Cruz for fifth-most in the AL. ... Napoli made a catch near the screen behind home plate to retire Buster Posey to end the third inning. ... Napoli was given a hit in the fourth when Harper lost his fly ball to left in the fourth.
Harrison gives up two-out runs: After Harrison needed just four pitches to get the first two outs of the fourth, he gave up a triple to Rafael Furcal. So NL manager Tony LaRussa inserted Matt Holliday, a right-handed hitter, to face Harrison instead of Carlos Gonzalez. LaRussa's former player came through for him, delivering an opposite-field single to score Furcal. Harrison then allowed a two-run home run to Melky Cabrera that landed in the AL bullpen in left to make it 8-0. So in his All-Star debut, Harrison surrenders three runs on four hits -- all with two outs.
Kinsler flys out with bases loaded: Ian Kinsler came into the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded and two outs. He fought off some foul balls from Clayton Kershaw and turned an 0-2 count into a 3-2 count. But the at-bat ended with a fly ball to left field. ... Kinsler made a rifle throw to first baseman Joe Mauer on a slow bouncer in the seventh to retire Jose Altuve.
Andrus plays third: Washington hinted before the game that Elvis Andrus might not play shortstop, and he didn't. For the first time in Andrus' big league career, he was at third base. Andrus immediately got a fielding chance and made a nice, strong throw across the diamond to get Andrew McCutchen, who can run. ... Andrus hit into a fielder's choice in his only at-bat in the ninth.
Chants of "Yuuuu": Yu Darvish, who did not pitch in the game, heard a nice, loud "Yuuu" from the sellout crowd at Kauffman Stadium when he was announced. All five Rangers reserves were announced last just prior the to the starter introductions. All got a nice hand.
Fans love Hamilton: One of the biggest cheers for any non-Royal went to Josh Hamilton. He garnered more votes (more than 11 million) than anyone in history and made his fifth consecutive start in the All-Star Game. Hamilton had a big smile as the crowd cheered him while he trotted out of the AL dugout on the first-base side.
Up next: The Rangers will get Wednesday and Thursday off before heading to Seattle to start a swing through the AL West. Derek Holland gets the start on Friday for Texas.
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