Web Analytics and Web Statistics by NextSTAT The Boston Sports Nut: American League sleepwalks to 4-3 win in 15 innings

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

American League sleepwalks to 4-3 win in 15 innings

July 15. Yankee Stadium. It was an All-Star Game unlike any other. That, of course, is because the first 78 All-Star Games actually ended. Ah, but not this one. It couldn't. It wouldn't. It almost didn't.

Midnight came and went. One o' frigging clock in the morning came and went. Yet the All-Star madness went on and on, defying the odds, defying the baseball gods, defying every clock on every wall. "I just know I looked up and it said 1:40 in the morning, and it was the 15th inning," said Twins first baseman Justin Morneau. "I never ever expected to come here and experience that."

J.D. Drew wondered whether he'd be pitching soon. Clint Hurdle sounded out David Wright about his mound prowess. It was the 15th inning of the final All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, and the bullpens were empty. As goodbyes go, this was a long, long one. "It was just crazy how it seemed like it lasted forever," Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It was the last year for Yankee Stadium, the last All-Star game, and it's kind of fitting that it seemed like it lasted forever."

Not quite. Justin Morneau slid home just in time on Michael Young's sacrifice fly in the 15th inning, giving the American League a 4-3 victory that extended its unbeaten streak to 12. In a game that began at dusk Tuesday and ended at 1:37 a.m. Wednesday morning, the grand old ballpark was half-empty when Young stopped a 4-hour, 50-minute marathon on the 453rd pitch. Given the ticket prices — $525-$725 in the lower deck, $150 in the bleachers — fans deserved something extra. They got it.

Many of the 49 Hall of Famers honored during pregame pageantry likely were in bed by the final out. For Boston's Terry Francona, the AL manager, this took on the stress of a game that counts in the standings. "I told Jim Leyland, `I'll quit cursing, I'll quit chewing,'" he said, referring to the Detroit manager who was part of his coaching staff. "I lied."

The NL was given a pregame pep talk by Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, whose motto is: "Let's play two!" And they nearly did, matching the NL's 2-1 win at Anaheim in 1967 for the longest All-Star game. Winner Scott Kazmir and loser Brad Lidge were the last available pitchers. Some started to worry this would replicate 2002's 7-7, 11-inning tie in Milwaukee, which caused the commissioner's office to expand the rosters

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