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A.L. 6, N.L. 3: Kuechel gives up one unearned run, Altuve goes 0-for-2

Keuchel pitches well in first All-Star start, Altuve still hit-less in three Midsummer Classics.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I like to think of the All-Star in terms of a character in an Albert Camus novel. It seems to be going through an existential crisis as it tries to conjure up meaning and purpose for itself in a, post-interleague baseball universe. Major League Baseball has tried expanded rosters, representatives from every team, and World Series homefield advantage stakes, but still there is a sense of "why bother?" surrounding the game. Sure, it's not nearly as bad as the Pro-Bowl when some of the biggest NFL stars faff about for sixty minutes and sure, people still tune in, making it the most-watched baseball game of the year until the playoffs start. But overall the luster of the Midsummer Classic has been lost, and until this year, I only really tuned in to watch the one Astros representative get his one inning of work on the field and (if I was lucky) one plate appearance in the late innings before he was unceremoniously subbed out. By then I'd be watching something else.

However this year was different. The Astros took everyone by surprise, entering the All-Star break as true playoff contenders, sending multiple players to the All-Star Game for the first time in seven years. Dallas Keuchel, the first Astro to start an All-Star Game since Roger Clemens in 2004,  pitched a very "Dallas Keuchel" type of game. He got through a perfect 1st inning, getting weak contact off former N.L. MVP Andrew McCutchen, current Home Run Derby champ Todd Frazier and former N.L. Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper. He even got a little help from an infield shift and the glove of Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson on the final out of the inning. However, Keuchel would get no such luck the following inning. Donaldson made a slick grab on the hot corne on a sharply hit ball by Paul Goldschmidt but the throw to first was about twenty feet over the head of Albert Pujols and Goldschmidt advanced to second. Buster Posey grounded on what would have been a double play, but instead was a productive out number one that moved Goldschmidt to third. Anthony Rizzo grounded out softly to Pujols for the second out, but Jhonny Peralta blooped a BABIP, Texas Leaguer single that plated Goldschmidt. A wild pitch would move Peralta to second (Keuchel admitted later on he was pretty amped up). However he settled down striking out the rookie phenom Joc Pederson to complete a good All Star debut with the line of two innings pitched, one hit, one strikeout, no walks, and one run that was not earned (nice one on that, Joe Buck).

Jose Altuve got his first start in an All-Star Game as well, but he is still searching for his first hit in the Midsummer Classic. He went 0-2 with two weakly hit ground balls. He didn't have a chance to show off his glove on the field, like he did in last year's game, but he didn't commit any errors either on a somewhat sloppy night on defense for the American League.

Of course there were other players on the field that weren't Astros. Mike Trout is pretty good at this baseball thing (or so I hear). He started off the game with a leadoff oppo shot to right off Zach Greinke. His first plate appearance in each of the last four All Star Games is as follows: a single in 2012, a double in 2013, a triple in 2014, and finally a homer in 2015.I guess that's one way to hit for the cycle. He finished off the game with a walk, two runs, and a strikeout, enough to earn him the All-Star Game MVP award for the second season in a row, the only player to do so. Yup, that Mike Trout kid might wanna stick to baseball, it's working for him.

Trout set the tone for the American League offense, but the National League was certainly not going down without a fight. Andrew McCuthen launched the first pitch off of Chris Archer in the bottom of the 6th (one could say that Archer left that pitch up in the...DANGERZONE). That pulled the N.L. to within one run with score at 3-2. However the A.L. would pull away in the 7th courtesy of an RBI double by Manny Machado and a Prince Fielder sac fly. Brian Dozier would put the final nail in the coffin for the National League with a solo shot off former Astro Mark Melancon to make it 6-3. Aroldis Chapman would come into replace Melancon, striking out the side with twelve of his fourteen total pitches reaching triple digits on the radar gun. The thought of him in the already superb Astros bullpen is certainly tantalizing. The next couple of weeks will probably be the most interesting trade deadline Houston has had in a long while. 

So that was the 86th edition of the MLB All-Star Game. The American League is once again victorious, winning their third straight. The Junior Circuit has now won fifteen of the last nineteen games, though still two wins behind the National League's forty-three overall win total.