Alex Bregman, George Springer Carry AL To All-Star Victory
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This is what happens when you hit on your first-round picks.
They win games for you. They carry you to the postseason. They represent your franchise glamorously on a national stage.
Bregman and Springer hit back-to-back home runs in the 10th inning, lifting the American League to an 8-6 victory over the National League in an All-Star slugfest at Nationals Park.
Bregman, the Astros’ top pick in 2015, hit the walkoff RBI single to win Game Five of the World Series for the Astros last October and was named All-Star Game MVP for hitting the tiebreaking home run on Tuesday. Springer, the Astros first rounder in 2011, won World Series MVP last fall and was responsible for the decisive blast in extras in the All-Star Game.
Again and again, the first-rounders keep delivering on the big stage.
“It never ceases to amaze me with how controlled he is in the big moments, in any game,” American League and Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Bregman. “In any pressure situation . . . He obviously loves the moment. His heartbeat is perfect and so is his execution at the big moments.”
Winning MVP in the nation’s capital held special meaning for Bregman. His grandfather was general counsel for the Washington Senators. His dad grew up in Washington as a child knowing Ted Williams.
So winning what is officially known as the Ted Williams All-Star Game MVP Award was a particular highlight in the 24-year-old’s career, and one he will treasure.
"My Dad grew up on Ted Williams’ lap, so to see Ted Williams Most Valuable Player on this trophy is pretty special,” Bregman said. "H showed me a picture of Ted Williams and him…. I looked at that picture for 10 years growing up and my dad, our thing growing up, was he always told me ‘You’ve got to be the next guy to hit .400 in the big leagues’ always.”
Bregman’s and Springer’s blasts highlighted a wild weekend of longballs.
The Futures Game featured a record eight home runs. The Home Run Derby saw its two finalists Bryce Harper (45) and Kyle Schwarber (55) combine for 100 home runs. And a record 10 home runs were hit in the All-Star Game, shattering the previous record of six.
"A lot of home runs were hit,” Springer said. " We saw a lot of quality guys put some good swings on some balls. We had a lot of fun out there.”
Aaron Judge, Mike Trout and Jean Segura all homered for the AL before Bregman and Springer put the junior circuit ahead for good. Willson Contreras, Trevor Story, Christian Yelich, Scooter Gennett, and Joey Votto all homered for the National League, with Gennett hitting the tying two-run homer off Edwin Diaz with one out in the ninth to force extras.
Things got particularly wild late with six homers in the final three innings. Segura hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth to put the AL up 5-2. A solo homer by Yelich in the eighth and Gennett’s game-tying blast in the ninth pushed the game to the 10th.
That’s when Bregman sent a Ross Stripling fastball into the left-field bleachers to lead off the inning. On the very next pitch, Springer walloped a Stripling slider into right to make it 8-5.
"Normally when we go back-to-back, I have to hit if after Springer does because he leads off,” Bregman chuckled. "I just took a cutter down the middle the first pitch and kind of went into battle mode and just was trying to put a line drive into play, and it left the yard. It was crazy.”
Votto homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the 10th to bring it closer, but that was the all the NL could muster.
First-rounders had a big impact beyond just Bregman and Springer.
Judge and Trout, two of the most famous first-rounders of a recent vintage, put themselves in the All-Star history books with their home runs.
Judge’s second-inning blast off Max Scherzer made became the youngest Yankee to homer in an All-Star Game since Mickey Mantle. Trout’s homer off Jacob deGrom gave him a hit in six straight All-Star Games, the first player to do that since Dave Winfield.
Scherzer and Chris Sale, both first-rounders, drew that start for their respective leagues and starred. Scherzer, pitching in front of his home crowd, struck out four in two high-octane innings. Sale, making his third straight All-Star Game start, threw the fastest pitch of the night at 100.7 mph.