Dodgers' contingent leaves mark in Minnesota
Kershaw, Greinke each perfect while Dee shows off speed, 'D' on off night for Puig
MINNEAPOLIS -- The performances of the four-man Dodgers contingent at Tuesday night's All-Star Game featured plenty of nothing. This wasn't all bad.
Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke participated in the pitching effort that stabilized the National League after the American League jumped on St. Louis' Adam Wainwright for three first-inning runs. Each contributed a perfect inning, though the AL's two-run uprising in the fifth inning ultimately made the difference in its 5-3 triumph.
Combined, Kershaw and Greinke threw 16 strikes in 23 pitches.
Right fielder Yasiel Puig didn't fare as well as his teammates. Appearing in his first All-Star game, Puig went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, matching the Midsummer Classic record for a nine-inning contest.
Puig could take solace in joining impressive company. The list of 11 other players to strike out three times in an All-Star Game includes luminaries such as Lou Gehrig (1934), Mickey Mantle (1956), Willie McCovey (1968), Johnny Bench (1970), Albert Belle (1996) and Craig Biggio (1998).
In fairness to Puig, he faced imposing pitching. AL starter Felix Hernandez, the Seattle ace, fanned Puig on five pitches in the first inning. Then Texas' Yu Darvish froze him with a 79-mph slider in the third inning. Detroit's Max Scherzer induced Puig to chase another full-count slider in the fifth.
"I'm not disappointed," Puig said through an interpreter. "I faced three great pitchers. They threw three great pitches to get me out."
Kershaw, the preference to start for the NL among many fans and media members, breezed through the second inning in relief of Wainwright. The left-hander needed just 11 pitches to retire Baltimore's Adam Jones on a foul popup, strike out Oakland's Josh Donaldson and coax a groundout from Kansas City's Salvador Perez.
Having started in all but two of his 198 regular-season Major League outings, Kershaw wasn't accustomed to filling a bullpen role, however temporary it was.
Said Kershaw, "It's just a different feeling, you know? Coming in for one inning, you've got a ton of adrenaline."
As was the case with everybody else at Target Field, Kershaw expressed the utmost appreciation for Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who intends to retire after this season and went 2-for-2 in his final All-Star appearance.
"It's awesome," Kershaw said of the adulation Jeter received. "Just really shows how much the fans appreciate everything he's done, as well as everybody in the game. So it's an honor to be a part of his last game, and I'm glad I didn't give up a hit, but it kind of would've been cool to face him one time."
Greinke looked every bit as impressive as Kershaw, if not moreso. The right-hander began his stint in the fourth by retiring Toronto's Jose Bautista on a groundout before fanning the Orioles pair of Nelson Cruz and Jones. Total workload: 12 strikes, nine pitches.
Dee Gordon, Los Angeles' other All-Star, displayed his signature speed after entering the game as a pinch-runner for Philadelphia's Chase Utley, who was hit by a pitch from White Sox left-hander Chris Sale with two outs in the fourth inning. Gordon proceeded to score on a double by Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy, forging a 3-3 tie.
Gordon stayed in the game at second base and nearly beat out a grounder up the middle for an infield single in the sixth inning. But Houston second baseman Jose Altuve made a deft short-hop pickup and threw quickly to first base to beat Gordon by an eyelash.
Gordon achieved a measure of revenge in the AL's half of the sixth, ending the inning by ranging into short right field to corral a ground ball by Cleveland's Michael Brantley and throwing to first for the out.