Sunday, July 13, 2008
Red Sox prospect Lin powers World team to Futures Game victory
NEW YORK -- Che-Hsuan Lin was still sitting at his locker long after the Futures Game ended, having a bite to eat and grinning with teammates from all over the globe.
He and many of the awe-struck minor leaguers were in no hurry to leave Yankee Stadium on Sunday as they soaked in their moment on baseball's biggest stage. But it's the Boston Red Sox, in particular, who are beginning to feel right at home during All-Star week.
Lin, a 19-year-old Red Sox prospect, hit a two-run homer and nine World team pitchers combined on a three-hitter for a 3-0 victory over the United States.
"It's one of the best memories of my life and my whole career," the Taiwanese outfielder said through a translator.
The 10th annual young-talent showcase began a much-hyped farewell to Yankee Stadium, with Tuesday night's All-Star Game highlighting the grand ballpark's final season.
First-place Boston, fierce rival to the hometown New York Yankees, will be well-represented. Seven Red Sox made the American League squad, to be managed by Boston's Terry Francona after his club won its second World Series title in four seasons last year.
Lin got the defending champs off to a rousing start Sunday, earning an MVP award won previously by Alfonso Soriano, Jose Reyes and Grady Sizemore.
The half-filled crowd wasn't impressed, chanting "Let's Go Yankees" and booing Lin -- as it would anyone in a Red Sox cap -- while he was interviewed on television near the mound after the final out.
"If I become a big leaguer, they won't love me," Lin said. "It's a tradition of being respected."
After coming off the bench to play center in the sixth, Lin drove the first pitch he saw from Colorado reliever Ryan Mattheus down the left-field line in the seventh to give manager Tino Martinez's World team a 3-0 cushion.
Red Sox prospect Che-Hsuan Lin cracked a two-run homer in the World team's win over the United States.
A good-looking pitching staff closed it out from there. Oakland right-hander Henry Rodriguez struck out three in the eighth, slipping on the mound while buzzing a 100 mph fastball across the plate as several big league general managers watched from the stands.
"I think my guys were pressing a little bit since they felt that how they played would determine whether they go to the Olympics. I tried to dispel that," United States manager Davey Johnson said. "The other guys played a little looser than us."
Johnson will manage the U.S. Olympic team next month in Beijing, and his Futures Game squad was made up of players being considered for the Summer Games.
He said he expects more than half his Futures Game team to join him in Beijing.
"The whole atmosphere, I think everybody was kind of nervous, but it was fun," Colorado center fielder Dexter Fowler said. "The names, the stadium -- just breathtaking."
Washington's Shairon Martis worked the ninth for a save, retiring Fowler on a grounder with two on to end it.
World starter Carlos Carrasco of the Philadelphia Phillies struck out two in a hitless inning to earn the win.
Chicago White Sox left-hander Clayton Richard started for the U.S. and took a hard-luck loss after allowing an unearned run.
The World team went ahead in the first, taking advantage of a throwing error by Philadelphia shortstop Jason Donald on a potential double-play grounder. Texas' Elvis Andrus then stole third and scored on an RBI grounder by San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval.
More than 40 Futures Game alumni have become big league All-Stars, and sometimes it doesn't take long. Last year's contest included 2008 All-Stars Evan Longoria and Geovany Soto.
"It's great to kind of follow in their footsteps and hopefully one day I'll be where they're at," Matt LaPorta of the US team said.
Notes There was a moment of silence before the game for former Yankees star and longtime broadcaster Bobby Murcer, who died Saturday at 62 due to complications from a malignant brain tumor. ... Lin is hitting .251 with five homers, 34 RBIs and 26 stolen bases for Class-A Greenville. ... LaPorta, the promising slugger traded from Milwaukee to Cleveland in the CC Sabathia deal last week, went 1-for-3 with a single, a walk and a strikeout. ... Oakland lefty Brett Anderson picked off consecutive World team runners at first base in the third inning.