Bryce Harper received polite applause when he was introduced to the Citi Field crowd in Flushing, Queens, New York's Citi Field as the starter center fielder and no.9 hitter for the National League All-Star team in the 84th annual MLB All-Star Game.
In his second All-Star appearance and his first start in the Midsummer Classic, the Washington Nationals' 20-year-old outfielder made two catches in center in the first two innings, a basket catch on a fly to center from Baltimore Orioles' first baseman Chris Davis and a much easier grab on a fly ball off David Ortiz's bat for the first out of National League and New York Mets' starter Matt Harvey's second scoreless inning of work on the mound.
Harper, the youngest player to ever start for the National League in the All-Star Game, and third youngest position player to start league-wide, caught the first out of the third in left-center off J.J. Hardy's bat.
The Nats' outfielder's first at bat came in the bottom of the third against Chicago White Sox' lefty Chris Sale. Harper put up a .185/.289/.323 line with three doubles and two home runs off left-handers in the first half of the 2013 season. Before tonight, Harper had never faced Sale, the 24-year-old, four-year veteran selected 12 picks after Harper went no.1 in the 1st Round in 2010. Harper spit on a first-pitch slider from Sale and took the second slider Sale threw him to get up 2-0. A called strike and weak foul ball evened things up and a hard-hit opposite field liner ended up in AL third baseman Miguel Cabrera's glove for the third and final out of the frame.
Harper played a Miguel Cabrera leadoff double off the XEROX sign in right-center and made a strong throw in from the track in the top of the fourth. Cabrera took third on a Chris Davis' single to right that glanced off Reds' first baseman Joey Votto's glove and then scored on a sac fly to center by Blue Jays' OF Miguel Bautista. 1-0 AL after three and a half in New York.
Pirates' outfielder Andrew McCutchen took over at first for Carlos Beltran after the Cardinals' slugger connected for the National League's first hit of the night off the AL's pitchers. McCutchen stole second on AL (and Seattle Mariners') hurler Felix Hernandez and took third on a Joey Votto groundout, but David Wright's grounder to Miguel Cabrera at third base ended the fourth inning with the American League still out in front, 1-0.
O's outfielder Adam Jones singled on a 2-2 cutter from the Phillies' Cliff Lee in the first at bat of the top of the fifth. Twins' catcher Joe Mauer's single to left sent Jones over to third and he scored when teammate J.J. Hardy's groundout brought him in to make it 2-0 American League. Tampa Bay Rays' lefty Matt Moore retired the side in order in the bottom of the fifth to keep it 2-0 in favor of the AL after five innings in Citi Field.
The Marlins' 20-year-old right-hander Jose Fernandez struck two batters out in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth inning in his All-Star debut. A's right-hander Grant Balfour walked the first batter he faced in the bottom of the sixth, the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer, but Oakland's reliever popped Bryce Harper (0 for 2) up for the first out of the inning. Cards' infielder Matt Carpenter flew out to center for the second out of the NL's half of the frame and Andrew McCutchen K'd swinging to end the inning.
Bryce Harper was replaced in right field by Milwaukee Brewers' outfielder Carlos Gomez, ending Harper's second All-Star appearance after six innings and two at bats. Tonight's 0 for 2 left Harper 0 for 3 with a walk and a K in two trips to the Midsummer Classic in two seasons in the majors.
2-0 AL after six...
The American League added a run on an RBI double by Jason Kipnis in the top of the eighth to make it 3-0 over the National League. Braves' right-hander Craig Kimbrel held the AL there. In his final All-Star appearance, New York Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera threw a scoreless, 16-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth to keep the National League off the board. Prince Fielder tripled on a fly to right in the top of the ninth, but Pittsburgh Pirates' closer Jason Grilli stranded Fielder at third. Texas Rangers' closer Joe Nathan came on for the bottom of the inning with a 3-0 lead and gave up a two-out double by Arizona Diamondbacks' slugger Paul Goldschmidt before the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez popped up to short right to end the game. 3-0 final.