It's a winning streak now. The National League won its third straight All-Star game on Tuesday night, and did so in historically dominant fashion, earning its largest margin of victory with an 8-0 shutout of the American League.
Motivated by Chipper Jones' impassioned clubhouse speech, the NL jumped on a surprisingly ineffective Justin Verlander for five runs in the first, equaling its best first-inning output in a midsummer classic. The inning was highlighted by Pablo Sandoval's bases-clearing triple, which, according to Baseball-Reference, is a first in All-Star game history.
It's also Sandoval's first triple of the season.
But as big as Sandoval's hit was, it was actually his San Francisco Giants teammate, Melky Cabrera, who earned MVP honors. Cabrera finished the game 2 for 3 with a two-run homer off Matt Harrison in the fourth and a single. In addition to their success, San Francisco starter Matt Cain was also the winning pitcher, making it a Giant night in Kansas City for the National League.
And who knows, if the Giants get a resurgent second half from struggling Tim Lincecum, they just may be the team that benefits from its own success by hosting another World Series.
You can find more details on the National League's victory below.
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10:52 PM (ET): We're heading to the ninth in Kansas City. The only questions that seem to remain are will the American League score, and which San Francisco Giant — Melky Cabrera or Pablo Sandoval — will win the All-Star game MVP.
10:33 PM: The highly anticipated Billy Butler at-bat results in a groundout to third. Of course another standing ovation followed. The American League goes quietly again in the seventh and still trails 8-0.
10:18 PM: The best story in the American League, Mike Trout, leads off the sixth with a single against the National League's best story this season, R.A. Dickey. Trout would then steal second base but is ultimately left stranded after Miguel Cabrera grounded into a double play. Billy Butler will lead off the seventh for the AL.
10:02 PM: Chipper Jones receives a rousing standing ovation before his sixth inning plate appearance, and then promptly rolls a very soft single into right field that Ian Kinsler completely misjudged off the bat. Hey, he'll take it.
9:49 PM: Bryce Harper's All-Star debut went like this: Draws a walk against Jered Weaver. Tags up and advances to second on a flyball to left field. Gets caught in a rundown trying to advance to third on a groudball to the pitcher. Tagged out.
Next half inning, loses fly ball in the lights. Or maybe off the glare of his shoes. We're not completely sure.
9:33 PM: Ryan Braun just had the first webgem of the evening, leaping to rob former Miwaukee Brewers teammate Prince Fielder of extra bases. That gets Stephen Strasburg to the dugout with a scoreless All-Star debut.
9:25 PM: The Cardinals connection of Rafael Furcal (triple) and Matt Holliday (RBI single) struck against Texas Rangers left-handed Matt Harrison in the fourth. Former Royal Melky "Melk-Man" Cabrera then followed with a two-run homer to expand the NL's lead to 8-0, which is the largest lead they've ever held in an All-Star game. Cabrera was also stiffed by former Yankees teammate Robinson Cano on a handshake attempt as he rounded the bases.
9:16 PM: Left-handers David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals each tossed a perfect third inning. It appears we're settling in for a pitcher's duel the rest of the way.
9:00 PM: Joe Nathan restored order for the American League in the second with a 1-2-3 inning. Matt Cain then breezed through his second scoreless inning. National League maintains their 5-0 advantage as we head to the third.
8:35 PM: The National League breaks through first, second, third, fourth, and fifth against Justin Verlander. After a one-out single by Melky Cabrera, Ryan Braun doubled over the head of right fielder Jose Bautista to bring home the first run. Verlander would proceed to walk Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey, which led to the very first, according to Baseball-Reference, bases clearing triple in All-Star game history off the bat of Pablo Sandoval.
Rafael Furcal's RBI infield single wrapped up the NL's record-tying five-run first inning (it's the fourth time it's done it). All in all, Verlander needed 35 pitches (19 strikes) to complete the inning, and obviously will not be returning for his scheduled second inning of work.
8:06 PM: As expected, Billy Butler drew a massive, near minute long applause as the Kansas City Royals lone representative. All members of the St. Louis Cardinals, including National League manager Tony La Russa, were also greatly warmly. Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones received nice hands as well. On the flip side, yes, Robinson Cano was booed unmercifully, though not far behind was Chris Perez of the Cleveland Indians and CC Sabathia.
7:50 PM: Phillip Phillips — the reigning American Idol who is not a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, I've been informed — performed a tune before a moving tribute to the history of the Negro Leagues aired. If you haven't already, I urge you to check out the special piece from Nick Bromberg earlier Tuesday detailing Ryan Howard's visit to the Negro League Museum on Monday. So much incredible history there and a wonderful story about Howard.
Player introductions are next.
7:27 PM: Welcome to Big League Stew's 2012 All-Star game live blog. I'll be here all night keeping you up to date on all of the latest news and happenings at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The pregame festivities are due to begin within the next 10-15 minutes and first pitch should come within the hour, so get comfortable and follow along with us. Also feel free to leave your predictions in the comments.