Robinson Cano was celebrating with everyone around him. Winning the All-Star Game still appeared to matter, even if it didn’t mean World Series home-field advantage.
In a week allocated around a giant budding star and the future of baseball, a veteran slugger and his fellow elder countrymen got to win in Miami. Cano homered off Cubs closer Wade Davis leading off the 10th inning and the AL beat the National League 2-1 Tuesday night for its fifth straight victory in a game dominated by modern fireballers, rather than its standout sluggers.
The Seattle second baseman, 34, was among the oldest players in an event built around so many of the sport’s new, younger stars, and he was just added to the roster last Friday as an injury replacement. He was not aware then that baseball players and owners had scrapped last October the rule giving home-field advantage to the league that wins the Midsummer Classic.
Cano earned the MVP honor with an impressive one clutch swing. He sent a hanging curve off the back wall of the right-field bullpen, then puffed a bubble with his gum when rounding the bases. Then hip-bumped Cruz on the way back to the dugout, then was joined by jumping, hopping and high-fiving teammates on the bench. For a good while, they bathed Cano with sunflower seeds and fanned him with towels.
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Cano said of his at-bat against Davis: “I know I was facing one of the best closers in the game. I was just ready. Whatever he throws over the plate, I’m going to swing … I’m going to take a pitch right over the middle.”
For the first time since 1964, the rivalry is back to all even – 43 wins apiece with two ties, and each side has scored exactly 361 runs. Cleveland closer Andrew Miller finished off the win.
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Cano’s homer came exactly 50 years after the previous All-Star extra-inning homer, when Tony Perez hit a tiebreaking 15th-inning shot off Catfish Hunter in the NL’s 2-1 win in Anaheim, California. Perez, now a Marlins executive, was amongst the eight Latin-born Hall of Famers who threw out ceremonial first pitches.
Cano has become the third Mariner to be named MVP of the All-Star Game, succeeding Ichiro Suzuki in 2007 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1992.
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