The All-Star Game is about moments, and memories, and there was no shortage of either on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, the first time the Dodgers hosted the midsummer classic in 42 years.
A reminder that the All-Star Game is an exhibition was never more apparent that when Ken Rosenthal interviewed Clayton Kershaw on Fox, broadcast to the stadium, just before he took the mound.
In his first career All-Star start, no less.
“I’m gonna throw as hard as I can, and it’s going to be 91, and we’ll see what happens,” Kershaw said before jogging to the mound.
KERSHAW PICKS OFF OHTANI pic.twitter.com/kw10RoHIFV— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 20, 2022
Seconds later, Tom Verducci held a similar interview with Shohei Ohtani, who said in English, “First pitch, first swing. That’s it.”
Both proved prescient.
Kershaw’s first pitch was indeed a fastball, at 90.9 mph, and Ohtani swung, lofting a single to center off the end of the bat.
That was cool in itself, but then after three pitches to Aaron Judge, Kershaw caught Ohtani leaning off first base. Kershaw, the active leader in pickoffs, authored the 11th pickoff in All-Star history, and the first since Carlos Zambrano in 2008.
Kershaw struck out Judge on the next pitch, then after a walk to Rafael Devers, he got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to ground out to end the frame. Kershaw threw 17 pitches, throwing a scoreless inning for the fifth time in his seven All-Star appearances.
Kershaw’s performance — the intro, the ovations, the scoreless inning — was cool enough, but what happened during his press conference in the media room was even better.
Clayton Kershaw thought his press conference was over when he was surprised by a 10-year-old.— Steve Saldivar (@stevesaldivar) July 20, 2022
The child’s grandfather made a bucket list. On that list: meet Clayton Kershaw. That never happened. He died of cancer. But today Blake Grice met Kershaw. He feels his pappy with him. pic.twitter.com/K5KGcd5ozO
Starting things off right
Mookie Betts not only started in center field for the National League and batted second, but he was busy before the game, too. And not just for, during pregame warmups, wearing a shirt that said “We need more Black people at the Stadium.”
On the Fox broadcast, and heard throughout the stadium just before the game, all the players from both teams stood on the field in front of home plate. Betts took the microphone and led the Dodger Stadium crowd in wishing Rachel Robinson a happy 100th birthday.
Wishing Mrs. Robinson a very happy 100th birthday. #AllStarGame pic.twitter.com/lvjrPX7bOv— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 20, 2022
In the bottom of the first, Ronald Acuña Jr. doubled to open the game, then Betts singled him home. Not only did it give the NL an early lead, but it was a feat even more rare in the All-Star Game.
Betts had the first Dodgers RBI in an All-Star Game since Andre Ethier in 2011.
Three batters later, Trea Turner singled, giving the Dodgers two players with a hit in the same All-Star Game since Ethier and Matt Kemp in 2011.
Betts and Turner marked the sixth time two Dodgers got a hit in the same inning of an All-Star Game, and the first since Davey Lopes singled and Steve Garvey tripled in the eighth inning in 1978.
Turner’s hit in the first inning was the fourth of the game for the NL, but also their last until the eighth inning.
Other cool stuff
Alek Manoah of the Blue Jays pitched the second inning, and managed to pull off the impossible cardiovascular feat of pitching while talking with Joe Davis and John Smoltz during the broadcast between every single pitch.
But if there was anyone in the ballpark up to the task, it was Manoah, who handled it with aplomb and whose excitement was palpable through the television screen.
"Right down the middle, but we'll take it! Three punchies! LET'S GOOOOOOO!!!"— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 20, 2022
Alek Manoah was HYPED pic.twitter.com/X4K98XOvIO
The cross-dugout conversation between Gerrit Cole, Max Fried, and the Fox booth in the top of the third inning was also great, the type of engaging conversation that seemed genuine and didn’t distract from the broadcast.
An exhibition game provided the perfect setting for these extras.
After the National League scored twice in the first inning, the score remained 2-0 until the top of the fourth, when Tony Gonsolin made his All-Star debut.
José Ramírez singled to open the frame, and Gonsolin got the next batter. But then, Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton hit back-to-back home runs. Stanton’s home run, as you might have guessed, was majestic, a 457-foot blast into the left field pavilion, both the longest and hardest-hit (111.7 mph off the bat) ball in the game.
STANTON SMASH OH MY WORD— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 20, 2022
This game is tied! pic.twitter.com/E7QXMqkJ2x
Gonsolin has allowed two home runs in a game just once this season, and three times in his career. He’s the third Dodgers pitcher to allow two home runs in an All-Star Game, joining Don Drysdale (1959) and Ross Stripling (2018). Stripling and Gonsolin both allowed their homers in the same inning. Drysdale spread his out in what was a three-inning outing.
Much like Drysdale — at the Los Angeles Coliseum, in the second All-Star Game in 1959 — and Stripling, Gonsolin was also hung with the loss.
The bottom of the first and top of the fourth were the only innings with runs in this one, giving the American League a 3-2 win. The AL has won the last nine All-Star Games.
Gonsolin during the regular season is 11-0, giving off extreme Eric Gagne vibes from 2003, when Gagne won the Cy Young Award and completed 55 saves in 55 chances, but blew the save in that year’s All-Star Game.
The Dodgers have hosted the All-Star Game four times, and all four times one of their pitchers got a decision:
- 1949: Don Newcombe (loss)
- 1959, G2: Drysdale (loss)
- 1980: Jerry Reuss (win)
- 2022: Gonsolin (loss)
How the Dodgers did
Betts played three innings in center field, and only batted once. He was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the third with Juan Soto. Betts was 1-for-1 with an RBI.
Turner popped out in foul territory to first base to lead off the fourth inning. He played five innings at shortstop. Turner was 1-for-2.
Freddie Freeman pinch-hit for Paul Goldschmidt — who homered in the first inning in his only at-bat — in the third inning, and grounded out into the shift, with second baseman Andrés Giménez throwing him out from short right field.
Kershaw pitched a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and a walk, with one strikeout and one pickoff.
Gonsolin allowed three runs on four hits in his one inning, including two home runs. He had one strikeout, getting Giménez swinging.
Tyler Anderson did not pitch.
The 2023 All-Star Game is in Seattle.