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AL drops the NL again

BY RONALD BLUM - ASSOCIATED PRESS | JULY 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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CINCINNATI — Mike Trout flashed the skill that puts him at the front of baseball’s new generation, just moments after four of the all-time greats had just walked off the field.

Trout became the first player in 38 years to homer leading off an All-Star Game, then became the first player to take home the Midsummer Classic’s MVP award two years in row.

A new-look All-Star Game finished with the same old result. The AL beat the NL, 6-3, Tuesday night and will open the World Series at home for the 10th time in 13 years.

After Trout completed a career All-Star cycle in just his fifth big league season. Prince Fielder drove in 2 runs, sending Trout blazing home with the run off Clayton Kershaw that put the AL ahead for good.

In an age of dominant pitching, Felix Hernandez, winner David Price, Zach Britton, Dellin Betances, and Wade Davis took scoreless turns in the AL’s third win a row.

A season after the retirement of Derek Jeter dropped the curtain on the turn-of-century greats, the 23-year-old Trout was among six starting position players under 25 — the most since 1965. He was the MVP of last year’s game in Minneapolis, when he hit a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double.

This time, Trout sent Zack Greinke’s fourth pitch, a 94 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate, over the wall in right next to the visiting bullpen for an opposite-field homer.

Winner of his first season AL MVP award last year, the Los Angeles Angel outfielder joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Gary Carter, and Cal Ripken, Jr. as the only two-time All-Star MVPs.

Fielder and Lorenzo Cain had run-scoring hits in the fifth against Kershaw, the reigning NL MVP, that put the AL ahead 3-1.

Manny Machado, at 23 another of the sport’s fresh faces, hit a double off the right-field wall against Francisco Rodriguez in the seventh and scored on Fielder’s sacrifice fly. And Brian Dozier, the last player added to the game as an injury replacement, hit a solo home run off Mark Melançon in the eighth.

Stars old and young gathered in one of baseball’s most traditional towns. The Reds became baseball’s first professional team in 1869, and players wore caps with horizontal stripes in an attempt at a 19th-century feel.

Pete Rose, Cincinnati’s hometown hero and baseball’s banned career hits leader, was given an 80-second ovation when he walked onto the field before the game to join Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Barry Larkin, elected by fans as the Reds’ greatest players. Wearing a red jacket and tie and walking stiffly, the now 74-year-old Charlie Hustle was applauded as soon as his image appeared on the video boards, even before he emerged from the AL dugout.

And in the first All-Star Game at Great American Ballpark, which opened in 2003, fans got to see some great ballplayers.

Bench, changed into a blue jacket, returned with Hank Aaron, Mays, and Sandy Koufax, voted baseball’s great living players by fans as part of the promotion. In a sentimental yet stunning reminder of generational change, Aaron, 81, and Morgan, 71, needed canes to reach the infield, and Mays, 84, was aided on and off the field by an assistant.

Above the field, relatively new Commissioner Rob Manfred watched from a luxury suite, the first All-Star Game not presided over by Bud Selig since 1992.

Many players of the new generation love bling in a manner that puzzles Hall of Famers: Posey wore a gold-colored helmet behind the plate, looking a bit like the Great Gazoo or a Praetorian Guard, accessorizing with a chest protector, shin guards, and cleats all with gold-colored trim. Baltimore’s Adam Jones was shod in bright orange cleats, and Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain and Washington’s Bryce Harper donned golden spikes.

Trout, a Generation Y star with a baby-boomer work ethic, completed a unique cycle on a clear evening that followed a heavy afternoon downpour. He singled in his All-Star début in 2012, doubled to open 2013 game, and tripled in the first inning last year.


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