Seeing as St. Louis Cardinals pitchers Adam Wainwright and Pat Neshek gave up all five of the runs which the American League scored in Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game, it’s safe to say that those two had the roughest nights of any players who took part in the 85th Midsummer Classic.
It was bad enough that Wainwright gave up a double to Derek Jeter, triple to Mike Trout, and home run to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning, putting the AL offense in motion in a start which many people believed should have gone to Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw rather than Wainwright. With Kershaw having thrown a perfect second inning, it only added to the controversy.
But the worst of it came when FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported in the eighth inning that Wainwright had admitted to reporters that he was taking it easy on the retiring Jeter, saying “I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it. If I knew he was gonna hit a double, I might have changed my mind.” Wainwright later came on the broadcast with Erin Andrews to try to convey that those comments were meant in jest rather than being serious, but since we haven’t gotten any video of those comments, that wasn’t enough to completely erase doubt that he might have been giving Jeter every shot to get a hit.
It certainly looked like those first two pitches were thrown to give the batter a great shot at making contact, although it’s possible that Wainwright could have been either worn out from having started on Saturday or thrown off track by having to wait while the crowd gave the 40-year-old shortstop an extended standing ovation.
While you’d like to think that Wainwright was just joking, it’s also conceivable that he could have been told by someone with his best interest in mind that he needed to retract the statements, seeing as World Series home field advantage is at stake in the All-Star Game, and Wainwright was in large part responsible for the NL losing it. Even if he was joking, those comments probably were not the smartest to make in a meaningful game, especially without explicitly indicating that they weren’t meant to be taken seriously. We’ll have to see if Major League Baseball has any concerns over how the events went down.
Cardinals righthander Pat Neshek, taking the improbable path to make his first All-Star team as a 33-year-old middle reliever who had been cast off, didn’t quite have the dream scenario he might have envisioned in his hometown of Minneapolis. Neshek, who hadn’t given up an earned run since June 3, came in to pitch the fifth inning and retired Josh Donaldson before giving up singles to Derek Norris and Alexei Ramirez and an RBI double to Trout. He was promptly replaced by Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard, who allowed Ramirez to score and cost Neshek another earned run. Neshek ended up taking the loss for the National League, as they failed to score again.
Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter, the team’s other healthy All-Star representative, did not appear in the game despite Mike Matheny’s praise of his versatility when naming him to the roster. It’s possible that Matheny could have been saving his third baseman for extra innings if the circumstances dictated.