By HAL McCOY
Baseball’s 89th July Jewel, the All-Star festivities, turned into a two-day Home Run Derby.
Fans who thought the Home Run Derby ended Monday night with Hometown Hero Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals winning it, were in for more long ball action during the All-Star game Tuesday night in Washington’s Nationals Park.
A record 10 home runs were launched in Nationals Park and they weren’t hit off lobs from 45 feet served up by friends and relatives. These were hit off a string of All-Star pitchers.
Each team hit five, but the difference was back-to-back 10th-inning home runs by Houston teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer to give the American League an 8-6 victory. It was the Americans sixth straight victory and 12th in the last 15 games.
And the game was a microcosm of what baseball is all about these days — home runs and strikeouts. While there were 10 home runs that accounted for 13 of the game’s 14 runs, there were also 23 strikeouts.
For just a brief couple of minutes, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett was in line for the game’s MVP.
Gennett was the last position player on both teams to enter the game and he came to bat as pinch-hitter with one out in the ninth inning and the Nationals trailing, 5-3.
Seattle closer Edwin Diaz, owner of 36 saves this season, walked Miami’s J.T. Realmuto with one out, bringing up Gennett. He pulled a home run into the right field stands to tie the game, 5-5.
His heroism was brief when Houston’s Bregman opened the 10th with a home run off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling. Springer was up next and he, too, homered. The Americans scored a third run when Cleveland’s Michael Brantley hit a sacrifice fly to make it 8-5.
Amazingly, Cincinnati’s Joey Votto led the bottom of the 10th with a home run to make it 8-6 and that’s all the Nationals could do.
Unfortunately, Votto made the only error of the game and it led to three runs in the top of the eighth.
With the scored tied, 2-2, the Americans had two on with one out. Seattle’s Jean Segura lifted a pop foul near the first base dugout. Votto planted himself under it near the dugout railing, but the ball hit his glove and bounced away for an error.
Segura hit the next pitch into the left field seats for a 5-2 Americans lead. When Votto later caught a pop-up, the fans gave him a Bronx cheer.
And here is how the home runs, one-by-one-by-one sailed into the seats:
(One) — New York Yankee Aaron Judge led the second inning with a home run of Washington’s Max Scherzer. 1-0.
(Two) — Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Mike Trout hit a two-out home run off Scherzer with two outs in the third, 2-0.
(Three) — Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras hit a leadoff home run in the third off Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell. 2-1.
(Four) — Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain hit a leadoff home run in the seventh inning off Houston’s Charlie Morton. 2-2.
(Five) — Seattle’s Jean Segura hit a three-run home run with one out in the eighth off Milwaukee’s Josh Hader. 5-2.
(Six) — Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich hit a one-out home run off Houston’s Charlie Morton with one out in the eighth. 5-3.
(Seven) — Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett hit a one-out two-run home run off Seattle’s Edwin Diaz. 5-5.
(Eight) — Houston’s Alex Bregman hit a leadoff home run in the top of the 10th of Los Angeles Dodger Ross Stripling. 6-5.
(Nine) — Houston’s George Spring hit a no-out solo home run in the top of the 10th off Stripling. 7-5.
(Ten) — Cincinnati’s Joey Votto hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the 10th off Toronto’s J.A. Happ. 8-6.