Giancarlo Stanton, Byron Buxton homer as American League wins 9th straight All-Star Game

The first All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in 42 years featured Clayton Kershaw starting in front of the home fans and appearances from Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, but the final score looked all too familiar: The American League won 3-2 for its ninth consecutive All-Star triumph and 21st in the past 25 Midsummer Classics.

The game turned in the fourth inning when Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton delivered back-to-back home runs off the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin. Neither were cheated with their swings. Stanton’s game-tying two-run shot was a 457-foot blast to left-center — longer than any home run hit at Dodger Stadium in the first half of the season. Buxton followed with a 425-foot home run down the left-field line, the seventh time in All-Star history with back-to-back home runs.

Stanton, making his first All-Star appearance for the Yankees since they got him from the Marlins before the 2018 season, won MVP honors with his first All-Star hit — he had gone 0-for-6 in his previous matches. His Yankees career has been up-and-down, including missing most of the 2019 and 2020 seasons with injuries, but he has 24 home runs at the break, a key part of a deep Yankees team that has an opportunity to beat the franchise record of 114 wins set in 1998.

American League pitchers held National League batters hitless from the second through the seventh innings, just the fourth time in All-Star history a team went at least 20 at-bats without a hit.

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Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase made his All-Star debut and finished it off, striking out Garrett Cooper on three pitches, fanning Kyle Schwarber on three pitches and then blowing a 1-2 99-mph cutter past Jake Cronenworth, just missing an immaculate inning.

For Dodgers fans in attendance, however, it was mostly about the chance to see the nine-time All-Star Kershaw start an All-Star Game for the first time in his storied career.

He allowed a leadoff single to Shohei Ohtani before picking him off at first base to a roar from the crowd on his way to a scoreless inning.

“I tried to take a minute at the beginning to take it all in and look around, which I usually never do,” Kershaw said. “And I think the moment itself, being here at Dodger Stadium, a place where I’ve been now for 15 years, to get to do something like this with the best in the world, is really fun. And it was also really personal for me and my family, everybody. I’m excited it’s over. I did OK. I got out of there with no runs.”

Ohtani told TV viewers as he stepped up to bat that he would swing at the first pitch — and he did, lining a fastball for a single to center field, although Kershaw said he broke Ohtani’s bat.

“You can’t throw the first pitch of an All-Star Game as a breaking ball,” Kershaw said. “He didn’t hit it over the fence, so it was a win and we can move on. But, yeah, you kind of had to give him a heater there, I think just for everything. Had to do it.”

While facing Aaron Judge, Kershaw then picked off Ohtani.

“I just kind of lobbed it over there,” Kershaw said. “I didn’t know what pitch to throw yet, so just kind of giving myself a second and I got him.”

MLB added two legacy All-Stars this year in Pujols and Cabrera. Pujols, winner of three MVP Awards, is fifth on the all-time home run list and third in RBIs and is playing his final season, returning to the Cardinals after 10 campaigns with the Angels and Dodgers. He pinch-hit in the fourth inning and elicited a momentary cheer from the crowd with a towering fly ball to left field, but the ball was caught just in front of the warning track.

With his 3,000th career hit in April, the two-time MVP Cabrera became just the seventh player with both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs — and one of just two of the seven with a .300 career average. He entered the game in the fifth inning and grounded out to shortstop.

The National League jumped all over Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan for two runs and four hits in the bottom of the first inning, with Mookie Betts singling in Ronald Acuna Jr., who led off with a double, and Paul Goldschmidt smashing a 417-foot home run to left-center.

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