No team appreciates the advantages of winning the MLB All-Star Game, and claiming home-field in the World Series, quite like the reigning champs and back-to-back division winners.
With a 4-2 victory, the American League claimed its fourth-straight win after losing the previous three.
So, if the Royals qualify for their third straight World Series, they will play Games 1 and 7 in Kansas City once again, and they have none other than their own first baseman Eric Hosmer to thank.
Hosmer, who collected a pair of hits as well as RBIs, became the first Royal to homer in an All-Star Game since Bo Jackson nearly three decades ago. Two batters later, Salvador Perez became the first to do so in about three minutes.
For his potent performance, the first-time All-Star garnered Most Valuable Player honors. Hosmer said:
“It’s a great feeling — it’s extremely humbling. Honestly, I was just so happy to be a part of this team and make the All-Star Game for the first time. I never thought about going out and trying to be the MVP.”
Of the clout, he said:
“I just told myself, with Cueto, be ready for the quick pitch. I was going to swing — going to let it loose and have some fun. … Just wanted to be aggressive.”
With a solo jack and an RBI single from the MVP, and a two-run dinger from Perez, Kansas City teamed up to provide four of the game’s first five runs, and all the AL would need. The first run of the game came off the bat of Cubs slugger and National League home run leader Kris Bryant — in his first All-Star at-bat.
Bryant, an alum of the University of San Diego, said:
“I had a couple people (with me) here at the game, and hit a home run in the game. It was a special moment for me. I really wanted to just enjoy it — take it all in.”
After staking his NL club to an early lead with the first-inning bomb, Bryant was powerless to stop the American League from returning serve — and leaving a mark in the history books while doing it.
Hosmer’s homer, which came off starting pitcher Johnny Cueto of the San Francisco Giants, made him the first Royal to go yard in a Midsummer Classic since Jackson led off the 1989 contest with a tape-measure shot. In a true touch of coincidence, Jackson’s mammoth shot in Anaheim came off another Giants hurler — Rick Reuschel.
MVP Hosmer said:
“That was really cool. … Salvy and I go way back, so to be able to share this whole experience and have the games we did tonight is pretty special.”
Their manager with both Kansas City and the All-Star Team, Ned Yost added:
“I was so proud of Hos when he hit that ball. Then Salvy, when he hit it — I felt like a proud papa, in that second inning, after those two guys gave us the lead. It’s been a long time since I’ve been that proud of two players.”
When the AL “Show-Me” starters were done etching their names in history, their “Junior Circuit” pitching staff proved to bend but not break.
An endless barrage of high octane stuff allowed 11 base runners but just one run over the final seven frames.
After having Cueto lit up for three runs on 1-2/3 innings — and Miami Marlin Jose Fernandez tagged for another in 1-1/3 — the “Senior Circuit” staff shut the door, allowing just two batters to reach over the final five.
The damage had already been done, however, as Cueto, who was a member of the Champion Royals a year ago, took the loss. Minnesota Twins hurler Corey Kluber getting credit for a win. Zach Britton, of the Baltimore Orioles, worked the ninth for a save.