KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ron Washington should have started David Price.
And he, or another American League manager, might regret that decision deep into October.
Washington chose Detroit's Justin Verlander rather than the Rays lefty to start Tuesday's All-Star Game, and it couldn't have looked worse as Verlander was tagged for five runs in the first inning of an 8-0 final that gave the National League homefield advantage in the World Series.
Amplifying the decision, Price worked a perfect third inning, needing only seven pitches — six of which clocked at 97 or 98 mph — to retire Cincinnati's Joey Votto (grounder to third), St. Louis' Carlos Beltran (fly to right) and San Francisco's Buster Posey (foulout to catcher).
"That might be my best inning of the year so far," a beaming Price said afterward. "The most efficient at least, so thank you guys for swinging. It's always a good experience. It's always fun to go out there and be able to put up a zero. I had fun."
The Rays' other All-Star, Fernando Rodney, had been designated the AL's closer but instead worked the ninth inning of a blowout. Still, he worked a 1-2-3 12-pitch frame and shot his imaginary arrow.
"I told you I was going to do it," Rodney said.
"Centerfield — almost got the crown (on top of the scoreboard)."
It was the third straight victory for the NL. But there was no defining moment, except perhaps the sight of San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval chugging around the bases in the first for the first bases-loaded triple in All-Star Game history.
Giants teammate Melky Cabrera, and his fluorescent orange cleats, won the MVP award for a first-inning single and a two-run homer.
Price's biggest concern was having to warm up in the bullpen without knowing when he'd be coming in. He had to make shorter tosses to get loose and stop throwing off the mound when Verlander struggled. He restarted about 20 minutes later.
Obviously, it wasn't a big deal.
"I didn't throw too many strikes in the bullpen," he said. "So I was happy to be able to go out there and throw some strikes."
He looked pretty good from the field.
"Like he always looks," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "He throws hard. He's tough. He'll pitch in plenty of All-Star Games before he's done."
Not so much from the batters' box.
"It stinks facing him," Votto said. "Next question."
Price, a three-time All-Star, said he had no issues with being passed over for the start, that "Verlander deserved it." But there was some question over how Washington came to the decision. He said Monday the Rays had limited to Price to one inning so that took him out of consideration. Price and the Rays said that wasn't the case.
Rodney was pleased with his All-Star debut, getting groundouts from Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen (to third), Cincinnati's Jay Bruce (second) and Chicago's Bryan LaHair, the ex-St. Petersburg College star (short).
"I was happy to be out there," he said. "It was a great moment, a moment in your career you want."
Verlander, the first player to win an MVP, Cy Young and rookie of the year award and start an All-Star Game, admitted he treated the game a little differently, both in terms of preparation and performance. Specifically, in throwing hard from the start as his velocity was up (he hit 100 mph five times and 101 once) and his command was off as he allowed four hits and back-to-back walks while throwing 35 pitches.
It matched the worst first inning of his career.
"That's why I don't try to throw 100 all the time. It usually doesn't work out too well for me," Verlander said. "I know this game is important; that it's for homefield advantage. But it's for the fans. They don't want to see me throw 90 and paint corners. They want to see a 100 mph fastball. I gave 'em that!"
Washington said he didn't know what Verlander had planned.
"I just expected him to be Verlander," Washington said. "Go out and get outs like he always does. It just didn't work out."
That's for sure.
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com
|Carlos Gonzalez struck out swinging|
|Melky Cabrera singled|
|Ryan Braun doubled, Cabrera scored|
|Joey Votto struck out looking|
|Carlos Beltran walked|
|Buster Posey walked, Braun to third, Beltran to second|
|Pablo Sandoval tripled, Braun, Beltran and Posey scored|
|Dan Uggla singled, Sandoval scored|
|Rafael Furcal grounded into fielder's choice, Uggla out|