Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Seeing Stars

After what seemed to be an endless introduction to the All-Star, which included a sincerely heartfelt tribute to Giant great Willie Mays, the 2007 All-Star game began. For Twins fans, it took a few innings before any Twins took the field. The first was Justin Morneau as a defensive replacement for David Ortiz, followed by Torii Hunter replacing MVP Ichiro Suzuki in center field, and finally followed by Johan Santana getting the seventh inning.

Offensively, the two Twins didn't do very much at all. Morneau hit a ball hard right at the right fielder in his first at-bat and popped out in his last at-bat. Hunter also flied out in his first at-bat and then grounded out with a runner on second to end the ninth inning for the AL. As for defense, the most that can be said is that it wasn't a reprise of 2002 for Hunter.

However, well Morneau and Hunter did not stand out, Santana's one inning was worth remembering. With only 10 pitches, Santana quickly set down Carlos Lee, Alfonso Soriano, and Jose Reyes. Santana struck out Lee after a few fouls on a nasty changeup and then followed up by striking out Soriano on a similarly nasty changeup. Often at All-Star games, starting pitchers just rear back and throw heat like a reliever does, but in this case, Santana showed America the same skills that have made him so devastating and dominate year after year.

Of course, while Santana was great, most viewers will likely remember Suzuki's In-the-Park home run, which was the first in All-Star game history, along with Soriano's two-run blast in the ninth that made the contest a very close game, with the NL loading the bases before Aaron Roward flied out. Good news for Twins fans is that they'll get more of Santana's magic right out of the gate after a day off today.