There are many things that could take away from the greatness that is the MLB All-Star Game - the constant pitching changes, the excessive camera shots of Derek Jeter, or the fact that an exhibition game now 'counts' towards the playoffs. But, those lingering dark specters are forgotten when the teams take the fields clad in white and grey. The pageantry of the game takes over as a packed Target Field celebrated the halfway mark in the baseball season like it was Christmas at the halfway mark of winter.
Jose Altuve to center-stage for the Astros as a whole, and the Houston couldn't have asked for a better respective - I mean just look at that smile - (Thanks, Tim for the GIFs).
We will get back to Altuve in a moment. The Astros hoped to continue their rather unique winning streak in the All-Star game with three wins in the National League and one win the American Leagues since switching leagues. The AL jumped out early on National League starter Adam Wainwright as Derek Jeter lead off of the game with a double. Mike Trout did Jeter one better with a triple drive home the Yankee Captain. Miguel Cabrera closed out the inning with a home run to put the AL up 3-0.
The NL responded with three straight hits in the second to bring the game within one - a Aramis Ramirez single, Chase Utley double, and a Jonathan Lucroy double. The score was still 3-2 when the top of the forth rolled around. The American League team took the field once again, but Alexei Ramirez trotted out shortly after them to relieve the captain. The Minnesota crowd gave Derek Jeter a standing obviation that lasted three whole minutes, and probably could have been long if not for Jeter cutting it short by ducking into the dugout. The first person that was there to greet Jeter in the dugout was Jose Altuve. Altuve this week had a called Jeter, not just the Captain of the Yankees but the Captain of baseball.
The National League would tie the game in the fourth as Jonathan Lucroy added a second double to drive Dee Gordon.
Jose Altuve entered the game in the top of the fifth, replacing Robinson Cano. Altuve got his only at-bat in the game after the AL once again roughed up a Cardinals pitcher. This time it was Minnesota-native Pat Neshek. Neshek surrendered three-straight hits - a pair of singles from Derek Norris, Alexei Ramirez, and a double from Mike Trout to put the AL up one.
The Astros second-baseman, Jose Altuve, stepped into the box with a new pitcher on the mound Tyler Clippard. Altuve put a charge into the third pitch he faced from Clippard. Off the bat it looked like a textbook Crawford Boxes home run, but it died on the warning track. It was still enough to get a fifth run home for the AL.
Jose Altuve's night was not done, he would flash the leather the next inning. Dodgers second-baseman Dee Gordon slapped a ball to the right of Altuve, he quickly gathered it and in one fluid motion threw out the Gordon.
Baseball was able to say good bye to the Captain tonight, even if the level of worship was excessive. Major League Baseball missed the boat by not having a moment for Tony Gwynn during tonight's game. Gwynn and Ted Williams at the 1999 All-Star was probably one of the greatest moment in All-Star history, not to mention the fact Gwynn one the greatest hitters in baseball history. Mike Trout was finally named the Most Valuable Player in something. More importantly for Astros fans, the world got to see the brilliance and magnums nature of Jose Altuve.