In Atlanta, the home of the Braves, the American League defeated the National League 5-2 in the 2021 All-Star Game. On Tuesday, Los Angelos Angels dual-threat Shoei Ohtani made history, while Gator Mike Zunino hit the scoreboard amidst numerous Tampa Bay Rays contributions.
Ohtani Makes History
Ohtani became the first player to start an MLB All-Start as both a player and a pitcher on Tuesday.
MLB rules don’t allow teams a designated hitter if the pitcher hits. But, Ohtani was voted into the All-Star game by his fellow players as both a hitter and designated player.
AL manager Kevin Cash said he begged the MLB to tweak the rules to avoid the mess of countless pinch hitters, and the MLB agreed. Cash said he’s impressed how Ohtani handled the pressure and transitioned from hitting to pitching.
On the mound in the bottom of the first, Ohtani pitched a clean first inning. Through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani said he went hard at the plate and just let it rip because he knew he’d be going for just one inning.
He thanked fans for the support and Cash for talking to the MLB. Ohtani said that this All-Star game is the best experience he’s had in the MLB so far.
Three Rays’ Players Contribute
In the 6th inning, Zuzino, who played at UF from 2010 to 2012, extended the AL lead to 5-1 with a solo run. The Rays catcher blasted the ball 433 feet out of the park off of Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker. In the ninth inning, he came up with a ball bouncing off the stadium wall behind the plate and threw Omar Narvaez out at second.
How bout this? Mike Zunino gets a lucky bounce off the backstop to gun down Omar Narvaez pic.twitter.com/vERbLor7PE
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 14, 2021
He summed up the Rays’ success after the game.
“To get a home run, Joey get a hit and catch Kittredge, this was pretty special.”
1-on-1 with Mike Zunino after the AL win & getting a HR in his first all star game. What fun. pic.twitter.com/eR4M197Z2E
— Tricia Whitaker (@TriciaWhitaker) July 14, 2021
Tampa Bay reliever Andrew Kittredge entered in the seventh inning. Though he initially planned to spend the week with family, he got a call from Rays manager Cash inviting him to the All-Star Game to replace Yankees’ Gerrit Cole. The reliever answered Cash’s call at the Rainforest Café on Monday and the All-Star on Tuesday, pitching a 1-2-3 inning.
Joey Wendle also entered in the seventh inning. At third base, he caught the ball behind Kittredge and later hit a single.
Combined, the AL pitchers struck out four NL hitters, while the AL hitters struck 12 times.
The Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Orioles’ Cedric Mullins and Blue Jays’ Teoscar Hernández all hit home runs for the AL. Blue Jays’ first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also hit a home run and won the MVP award.
The Orioles’ Manny Machado and Phillies’ J. T. Realmuto each hit home runs for the NL.
Back to the Regular Season
With the All-Star festivities over, MLB play resumes with the Red Sox versus the Yankees tomorrow. The Rays play the Braves in Atlanta on Friday.
Postseason play will begin October 5, with ten teams making the playoffs.