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All-Star Results - 1998

Game 69
July 7, 1998

 Coors Field, Denver Game Final 
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
 American 0 0 0 4 1 3 1 1 3   13 9 2
 National 0 0 2 1 3 0 0 2 0   8 12 1
 
MVP: Roberto Alomar, BAL (AL)
Home Runs: Barry Bonds (NL), Alex Rodriguez, Roberto Alomar
Attendance: 51,267

Game Recap

That old baseball adage that good pitching beats good hitting was created long before this era of uncanny offensive heroics. It was also before the launching pad known as Coors Field was built.

With that combustible combination meeting head-on amid the thin air of Denver in Tuesday night's All-Star Game, the slugfest everyone anticipated came busting out in the AL's 13-8 victory.

The fans got what they wanted in the Midsummer Classic. Entertainment.

From the early mastery of Greg Maddux, to the titanic three-run homer by Barry Bonds, right down to the AL's pair of defensive gems in the eighth, this was one of the most enjoyable All-Star Games in recent memory.

It was a fitting cap to a magnificent first half that has seen record performances by individuals (Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez) and a team (the 61-20 Yankees).

Naturally, the 21 runs scored broke the previous All-Star record of 20 runs in 1954. And the combined 31 hits tied the previous mark, set in 1992.

Roberto Alomar
MVP Roberto Alomar hit a solo home run in the seventh inning. (AP)
Believe it or not, it started as a pitchers' duel.

When Jim Thome walked to load them up in the first inning, Maddux remained unfazed. He fanned Alex Rodriguez looking to end the inning.

NL skipper Jim Leyland said it best as Maddux trotted back to the dugout. "Hell of a pitch, baby. That's why you're the best."

Maddux's counterpart, the Yankees' David Wells, didn't need such drama to post a scoreless first.

With pinpoint control, the Boomer, who threw the game's only perfect game this season on May 17, cruised through a 1-2-3 inning. He even made Mark McGwire, he of the 37 homers, look bad, breaking the muscular first baseman's bat on a harmless grounder to short to end the frame.

The burly Wells didn't look so good with the bat, though. He ended the AL's futile second with a weak grounder to second and Maddux seemed to be settling into one of his legendary grooves.

Unfortunately, he was done for the night. Such is life in the All-Star Game when Leyland's main objective is to keep everyone happy and healthy.

AL manager Mike Hargrove couldn't have been much happier with Wells, who finished his two innings with an unorthodox 1-2-3 (walk, 6-4-3 double play, popout) inning.

The slugfest everyone was anticipating in hitter-friendly Coors Field was taking a while to come about.

Even stranger, Gonzalez, who has spent the past three months delivering in RBI situations, stranded them again in the top of the third. With Lofton (walk) on third and Griffey (single) on first and one out against Tom Glavine, Juan Gone popped weakly to second baseman Craig Biggio. Thome then ended the inning with a shallow fly to left, giving Barry Bonds a chance to hotdog it a bit with a basket catch down the line.

Leave it to Tony Gwynn, the decade's best pure hitter and 14-time All-Star, to finally get this game moving in an offensive direction. After the NL rallied to load the bases with one out against four-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, Gwynn smoked a two-run single up the middle, giving the NL a 2-0 lead in the third.

Clemens, baseball's resident Rocket Man, did give the crowd a buzz when he struck McGwire out on high heat to get the better of an epic power vs. power matchup.

Meanwhile, the AL didn't waste any time clawing their way out of the two-run deficit. In the top of the fourth, Cal Ripken Jr. silenced some critics who said he isn't an All-Star anymore by drilling a two-run double off the top of the right field wall. It missed being a home run by inches.

"Well, I expected the ball to kind of curve away," he said. "Maybe it's the light air here in Colorado. The ball kind of stayed straight."

Glavine inched himself into further trouble -- not to mention the shower -- by walking in Griffey with the bases loaded, giving the AL its first lead at 3-2. The Padres' Kevin Brown then came in from the pen in hopes of rescuing Glavine.

But the first batter he faced was the dangerous Gonzalez, who rescued himself from being the All-Star goat by finally driving in a run with a sacrifice fly to center for a 4-2 AL lead.

However, Gonzalez had still stranded six of seven runners in his three at-bats, something that undoubtedly didn't sit well with the man who is admittedly obsessed with breaking Hack Wilson's all-time record of 190 RBI back in 1930.

The fans got what they wanted to see in the bottom of the fourth when former Rockies shortstop Walt Weiss slammed an RBI single to right off Brad Radke, closing the gap to 4-3.

Weiss, now with the Braves, came into the game with much fanfare. Not only is he an 11-year veteran making his first All-Star appearance, he has also gone through more adversity the past few weeks than anyone should.

His three-year-old son Brody was stricken with E-coli, a potentially fatal bacteria ailment. But it appears Brody is over the scary setback, and was actually on hand with his mom to witness his dad's clutch single. Weiss' family was flown to the game in a private jet by Rockies management, giving the game even more of a feel-good atmosphere.

"My focus for the most part has been far removed from baseball and the All-Star Game," Weiss said. "Looks like it's going to be a very happy ending. My boy is going to be fine. It's been a great time here."

But the NL's momentum was short-lived as the Mariners' ARod led off the fifth by belting the first homer of the game, a solo shot through the thin air and into the right-center field seats for a 5-3 AL edge.

It was in the NL's half of the fifth the fans -- and the nation -- really got the fireworks they were looking for. With two on and none out, Bonds, the Giants' All-World left fielder, turned on a Bartolo Colon offering and throttled it off the facade of the third deck in right field. It gave the NL the lead back at 6-5 in the most dramatic fashion possible.

Ironically, Bonds' bullet deflected directly off of the San Francisco Giants' banner on the overhang.

In this game, on this field, a one-run lead wasn't going to last long. And there the AL was, tying things up again in the top of the sixth when Roberto Alomar came scampering home on an embarrassing passed ball by Braves catcher Javy Lopez, who had all kinds of defensive nightmares in the inning.

Then Griffey came home on a wild pitch that could have been blocked if Lopez had taken a more aggressive approach. It was 7-6 AL, but not for long.

The AL's other Rodriguez, the Rangers' Pudge, smashed a single to left off Expos closer Ugueth Urbina and in came Thome for the AL's eighth run. The shootout appeared to just be getting started.

Tamba Bay's prized rookie Rolando Arrojo, who defected from Cuba on a raft, helped keep the AL's sagging staff afloat in the sixth. He worked his way out of a two-on, two-out jam -- but barely -- when Andres Galarraga, another current Brave and former Rockie, flew out to the warning track in center, thus preserving an 8-6 AL lead through six.

The player most in need of some positive exposure -- Roberto Alomar -- got some when he sent a drive down the right field line off Padres ace closer Trevor Hoffman for a solo shot and a 9-6 AL cushion in the seventh.

Alomar, once one of the game's most popular players, has never lived down spitting in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck almost two years ago. Perhaps Alomar's impressive performance Tuesday -- which included three hits, a stolen base and a walk -- amid the lights of this game will help wipe some of the ugly tarnish off his image.

The AL finally seemed to be in command as Alomar's brother Sandy delivered an RBI single for a comfortable 10-6 lead in the eighth.

Hargrove knew the Alomars would be a force. "I played with their father (Sandy Sr.)," Hargrove said. "They're a very talented duo and nothing they do should surprise us."

But comfort was a foreign concept in this one. Boston reliever Tom "Flash" Gordon melted down in the bottom of the eighth, putting the first four runners on, capped by Greg Vaughn's two-run single to chop the margin to 10-8. With still nobody out, the NL went into its self-destruction mode when Fernando Vina foolishly tried to score from second on Devon White's single to left. Yanks left fielder Paul O'Neill was having none of it. He fired a strike on the fly to the plate, gunning down the over-aggressive Vina.

Cleveland's Omar Vizquel, according to manager Hargrove, is the best defensive shortstop ever. He backed his manager's lofty praise with a brilliant unassisted double play to put out the fire Gordon couldn't seem to put out himself.

"I think Paul O'Neil kept us in the game, and Omar Vizquel made a great (double) play for us," Roberto Alomar said.

It's the second win in a row for the American League, which has won eight out of the past 11 All-Star Games.

"We didn't like losing, but you have to give Mike Hargrove a lot of credit," Leyland said. "The (American League) did a great job."

It was the longest All-Star Game in history -- by 27 minutes -- but Leyland felt it wasn't long enough.

"It's been enjoyable," Leyland said. "Good to see all the great players from around the league, a nice reunion ... it's too short, but it's been fantastic."

Rosters
American League
  Roberto Alomar
  Sandy Alomar
  Rolando Arrojo
  Scott Brosius
  Roger Clemens
  Bartolo Colon
  Ray Durham
  Damion Easley
  Darin Erstad
  Juan Gonzalez
  Tom Gordon
  Ben Grieve
  Ken Griffey Jr.
  Derek Jeter
  Kenny Lofton
  Pedro Martinez
  Paul O'Neill
  Dean Palmer
  Rafael Palmeiro
  Troy Percival
  Brad Radke
  Manny Ramirez
  Cal Ripken Jr.
  Alex Rodriguez
  Ivan Rodriguez
  Aaron Sele
  Jim Thome
  Mo Vaughn *
  Omar Vizquel
  David Wells
  John Wetteland
  Bernie Williams *
National League
  Moises Alou
  Andy Ashby
  Dante Bichette
  Craig Biggio
  Barry Bonds
  Bret Boone
  Kevin Brown
  Vinny Castilla
  Andres Galarraga
  Tom Glavine
  Tony Gwynn
  Trevor Hoffman
  Chipper Jones
  Jason Kendall
  Javy Lopez
  Greg Maddux
  Mark McGwire
  Robb Nen
  Mike Piazza
  Rick Reed
  Edgar Renteria
  Sammy Sosa *
  Curt Schilling
  Jeff Shaw
  Gary Sheffield
  Ugueth Urbina
  Greg Vaughn
  Fernando Vina
  Larry Walker
  Walt Weiss
  Devon White
* Named to team but replaced due to injury

A sold-out crowd watches the opening ceremony of the 69th annual All-Star game Tuesday, July 7, 1998 at Denver's Coors Field in Denver.