KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Texas Rangers had hoped that with eight All-Stars on the AL squad -- and all of them understanding fully how important homefield advantage is in the World Series -- they could have a positive impact in Tuesday's All-Star Game.
It didn't work out that way.
Most of the Rangers weren't able to do much to help the AL, but even before any of them could hit or pitch in the game, the NL had built a sizeable lead.
Justin Verlander came out lighting up the radar gun, but couldn't darken the lower part of the strike zone. He gave up five runs on four hits in the first inning as his fastball, which hit 100 mph on the Kauffman Stadium radar gun at one point, was up too high.
Verlander said he understood that the game meant something.
"But we're here for the fans," Verlander said. "The fans don't want to see me throw 90 on the corners."
Instead, they got to see 100 and a bunch of National League hits. Verlander admitted that by throwing that hard that soon, he hadn't had a chance to settle into his delivery rhythm. In other words: He sacrificed some command for velocity.
That's fine in an exhibition game, but not so great in a game that decides home-field advantage in the World Series. Or one that tries to be both, as it seems these All-Star Games do.
Verlander said he wasn't trying to give up runs, obviously. But he also didn't approach the game like a normal start, either. And he didn't look like Cy Young or MVP Justin Verlander in the process.
"I just expected him to be Verlander -- go out and get outs like he always does," AL manager Ron Washington said. "It just didn't work out."
The Rangers' players, like the rest of the AL roster, couldn't do much once they got behind. Matt Harrison allowed three runs on four hits -- all with two outs -- in the fourth to effectively put the AL too far behind to rally. Harrison retired the first two batters he faced on four pitches, but after Rafael Furcal tripled, NL manager Tony LaRussa went to his bench and a familiar face in St. Louis Cardinal Matt Holliday. The right-handed hitter belted a single opposite field to score Furcal. Then Melky Cabrera hit a home run into the AL bullpen in left field to score two more runs.
"I had fun," Harrison said. "I wanted to pitch better, but it was my first All-Star Game and I was taking it all in. The pitch I threw to Furcal was a good one and he got it. But the one to Cabrera for the homer was right down the middle."
That homer helped Cabrera claim MVP honors for the game.
Read the rest of the story here.