Mike Trout reels in second-straight All-Star MVP

The Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim can return to regular season play on Friday with pep in their collective step after the American League’s 6-3 win in the MLB All-Star Game means the winners of the AL pennant will host the 2015 World Series.

The team with the home-field advantage has won eight of the last 10 World Series titles, with only the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants claiming trophies in 2008 and 2014 despite opening the series on the road.

The game started and ended with a spotlight on Trout, the Angels’ superstar center fielder and now consecutive two-time All-Star Game MVP, in the spotlight.

After the game, Trout said:

“When I go out there I play my hardest every day. It doesn’t matter what the score is, when I’m in there I’m playing nine innings hard. It’s an incredible honor to be a part of the All-Star Game and win the MVP (trophy) twice, its something special for sure.”

Trout became the first player in history to claim the MVP in consecutive midsummer classics, starting off the game by depositing a 1-2 Zack Greinke fastball into the right field seats.

With the bomb, Trout became only the second player in All-Star Game history to start the contest with a homer. The first was Kansas City Royals (and Oakland Raiders) star Bo Jackson when he homered to open the 1989 game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Jackson’s name came up again later in the game when Kansas City Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain collected his second hit, as ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark tweeted:

The AL added two runs in both the fifth and seventh frames, and a single run in the eighth, while the NL tallied single runs in the second, sixth and ninth.

Along with Trout, who finished going 1-for-3 with a walk, RBI and two runs scored, the AL was led by Cain who went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Texas Rangers DH Prince Fielder provided production off the bench with an RBI single and sacrifice fly in two at-bats.

For his perfect inning of relief, which included strikeouts of Washington Nationals Bryce Harper and Arizona Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt, Detroit Tigers David Price was awarded the win.

The loss went to reigning NL Cy Young and MVP award winner Clayton Kershaw, who allowed three hits, one walk and two earned runs in the fifth inning.

It had been more than a decade since a Dodgers pitcher had taken an All-Star Game loss, according to a tweet from MLB on Fox:

The Bay Area was well-represented in the game, though the only production came in the form of a ninth-inning RBI from Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford.

A’s catcher Stephen Vogt caught three innings and was struck out by Mets hurler and 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom in his only at-bat.

The strikeout started what would end up being a dominant one-inning outing by deGrom, who sat down Vogt along with Cleveland Indians Jason Kipnis and Detroit Tigers Jose Iglesias on ten pitches. The last Mets pitcher to accomplish such a feat was four-time All-Star Dwight “Doc” Gooden in 1984.

Aside from Crawford’s sacrifice fly, it was a tough night for the Giants’ representatives. Buster Posey, the NL’s starting catcher, went 0-2 with a groundout and lineout. Second baseman Joe Panik struck out in his first All-Star Game at-bat before lining out to right field to end the game.

For the A’s, at the bottom of the AL West and 8-1/2 games behind the Angels, World Series home field advantage serves as a finish line to a seemingly unwinnable race. The Giants, though, will need to overcome the disadvantage, just like last year, should they return to the Fall Classic.

Notes

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper became the 11th player to appear in a MLB All-Star Game prior to his 23rd birthday. He led all NL players with more than 11 million votes en route to his first ASG start. … Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt became the first player in franchise history to start multiple All-Star games. He finished voting with more than seven million, nearly four million more than second-place finisher Dodgers Adrian Gonzalez. … When Pittsburg Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a homer to left field, he and Trout became the second leadoff duo to each homer in an all-star game. In 1965 Giants outfielder Willie Mays and Detroit Tigers second baseman Dick McAuliffe accomplished the feat.