MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 2: Matt Capps #55 of the Minnesota Twins reacts to giving up two straight singles to start the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 2, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Brewers defeated the Twins 8-7. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The Washington Nationals gambled on Matt Capps after the Pittsburgh Pirates had non-tendered their closer in the winter of 2009. The then-25-year-old right-hander was coming off an '09 campaign in which he was (4-8) with 27 saves, a bloated 5.80 ERA, a 4.90 FIP, 17 BB (2.82 BB/9) and 46 K's (7.62 K/9). The Nats signed Capps to a one-year/$3.5M dollar deal and after he'd gone (3-3) with 23 saves in 41 games and 39.2 first-half innings pitched in which he posted a 3.18 ERA, 7 BB (1.59 BB/9) and 33 K's (7.49 K/9), the then-26-year-old reliever was selected to represent the Washington Nationals as the Nats' seventh All-Star...
LET'S GO CAPPS!!! LET'S GO CAPPS!!!I
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo signed the reliever in January and then flipped the All-Star seven months later at the 2010 trade deadline, acquiring highly-regarded catching prospect Wilson Ramos from the Minnesota Twins along with left-handed reliever Joe Testa, but not until after he'd represented the Nats in Anaheim at the 2010 All-Star Game.
The Nats' closer entered the All-Star game with two down in the sixth inning and Boston's left-handed slugger David Ortiz due up. NL Skipper Charlie Manuel, of the defending NL Champ Philadelphia Phillies, brought Capps in after Phils' ace Roy Halladay had given up a two-out single to the Rangers' Josh Hamilton in the bottom of the 6th with the AL ahead 1-0 after an unforced error by LA Dodgers' pitcher Hong-Chi Kuo in the fifth set up a sac fly that put the American League up as they sought to win their 13th-straight All-Star Game.
Capps started the Red Sox' first baseman/DH with two fastballs outside, 2-0, then threw a 94mph fastball on the outside edge for a called strike. The 6'4'', 230 lb Ortiz fouled off a 2-1 fastball Capps threw a little further outside and then, after Capps shook off three pitches Braves' catcher Brian McCann called for, the Nats' closer threw a two-seam fastball inside to the left-handed hitting Ortiz who took it for a called strike three and the end of the sixth. STARE AT IT PAPI!!!!! • WPA: Doghouse says, "Moar trade value! Matt Capps (+2.5%) goes 0.1 IP, striking out Big Papi..."
Capps was then the pitcher of record when the NL got back-to-back one-out hits off the Yankees' Phil Hughes and a walk from the White Sox' Matt Thornton to load the bases for the Braves' backstop. McCann's two-run double put the NL ahead and when they held on for the win, Washington Nationals' closer Matt Capps got the W! Capps gets the Curly-W as the National League ends over a decade of dominance by the AL in the ASG. "'As a kid, I always dreamed of playing in the big leagues,'" Capps told MLB.com's Bill Ladson in an article on the All-Star game entitled, "Elated Capps gets win in All-Star debut", but, he continued, "Playing in the All-Star Game is something I never really thought about." Within a month, Capps would be dealt to Minnesota, with whom he'd make his first post season appearance less than a year after the Pirates non-tendered the right-hander who'd been the Nationals' seventh All-Star.