PHOENIX (AP) – Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer off Texas left-hander C.J. Wilson, helping the National League build a 4-1 lead against the American League through six innings of the All-Star game on Tuesday night.
The captain of the NL’s Home Run Derby team, Fielder was booed during the derby Monday night and again at the All-Star game by Arizona fans who thought he should have picked Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton for his team.READ MORE: USC To Conduct Zero Waste Game Saturday Evening
Fielder couldn’t quiet the crowd at the Home Run Derby, where he failed to reach the finals, but sent a loud ooh! through Chase Field with a towering homer in the fourth that caromed off the top of the wall in left-center. It was the first homer for a Brewers player in the Midsummer Classic.
Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez, runner-up to Robinson Cano in the Home Run Derby, hit a solo homer in the top of the inning off Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee near the pool in right field. It was the All-Star game’s first homer since Boston’s J.D. Drew hit a two-run shot off Edinson Volquez in the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium in 2008.
The NL pushed to lead to 4-1 in the fifth inning on Andre Ethier’s run-scoring single to right off Angels closer Jordan Walden, who cut down Starlin Castro at the plate with a nice barehanded stop earlier in the inning.
Arizona lived up to its sizzling reputation in its first All-Star game, a high temperature of 102 degrees making the pregame parade a quick procession through downtown.
Protesters didn’t seem to mind the heat, with about 75 members of the pro-immigrant group Somas America passing out white ribbons and spreading their message against SB1070, the polarizing immigration law passed by Arizona last year.
But it was mostly calm and cool inside air-conditioned Chase Field, where the gametime temperature was 72, the anti-immigration law sentiment was nearly nonexistent and girls in bikinis swirled around in the pool behind the wall in right.
On the field, this All-Star game was more like a substitute-star game, the focus as much on who isn’t here instead of who is.
Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Chipper Jones, Justin Verlander and Shane Victorino were among the 16 players who didn’t play, leaving the All-Star game without some of its biggest names due to injuries, ineligibility or, in some cases, questionable circumstances.
Six pitchers didn’t get a chance to play because they started on Sunday: Verlander, Yankees lefty CC Sabathia, Tampa Bay’s James Shields, Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels and San Francisco’s Matt Cain.
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, Phillies teammates Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco, and Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester are injured, but still made the trip to Phoenix.READ MORE: 4 People Shot At Willowbrook Metro Station, 3 Of Those Critically Injured
The player who has taken the most heat for avoiding the desert is Jeter.
Despite playing over the weekend, when he reached the 3,000-hit mark, the Yankees captain bowed out of the Midsummer Classic, citing a calf injury. Jeter was criticized by some, cut some slack by others. Either way, he wasn’t at the game, in uniform or in support.
The inaugural All-Star game in the desert also figured to be void of offense, much like last year’s game, a 3-1 win by the National League that ended the AL’s 13-year unbeaten streak.
Scoring in the first half of this season was at its lowest level (8.4 runs per game) in 19 years and the league batting average (.253) dropped for the second straight year to its lowest point since 1985.
The two starting pitchers figured to make it tough, too.
Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, became the fourth pitcher to start the All-Star game in both leagues (Toronto in 2009) after going 11-3 with a 2.45 ERA in the first half to make it an easy decision for NL manager Bruce Bochy. He made quick work of the AL, working two perfect innings before being replaced by Lee in the third.
Angels ace Jered Weaver made it simple on AL manager Ron Washington, too.
The lanky right-hander earned his first All-Star nod last season, but didn’t get to play because he pitched the Sunday before the game. He’s had another superb start to this season, going 11-4 with a majors-best 1.86 ERA that was lowest ever for an Angels pitcher the first half of the season.
Weaver worked around a walk in the first inning and was supposed to be replaced by Josh Beckett in the second, but the Boston right-hander never made it out of the bullpen because of lingering soreness from a left knee he strained his last start.
“I could have pitched. I’m just not comfortable going out there and getting hurt in an All-Star game and costing myself starts in the second half,” Beckett said. “I think that’s how everybody should be. This game does mean a lot with home-field advantage and everything but at the same time there are some things that are ahead that are a little more important.”MORE NEWS: Thousands Participate In 'More Than Pink' Walk Raising Awareness, Funds In Fight Against Breast Cancer
Beckett was replaced by Yankees right-hander David Robertson, who got help from a sliding catch by right fielder Jose Bautista before giving up the game’s first hit, a single by St. Louis’ Lance Berkman. The AL got out of the inning when Robertson struck out Matt Holliday looking and catcher Brian McCann threw out Berkman trying to steal second.