On his fourth pitch to the Colorado Rockies’ Trevor Story, Oakland Athletics reliever Liam Hendriks looked like he tripped.
Behind him, Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor laughed, and complemented him on his “All-Star trick” pitch. Hendriks smiled. It was what he called his “hitch pitch,” he told reporters, and it was part of an inning where he struck out three, gave up a 384-foot homer to Charlie Blackmon and sailed a pitch to the backstop.
That errant toss was the only hiccup for the A’s pair of first-time representatives in the 90th Annual Major League All-Star Game in Cleveland. Along with Hendriks’ inning, A’s third baseman Matt Chapman drew a walk and scored. Giants closer Will Smith didn’t have such a smooth outing, giving up a homer as the American League won, 4-3, stretching their record to 25-6-1 over the last 32 All-Star Games.
Chapman was not one of the several players mic’d up for the FOX broadcast, but he did feature in the sixth-inning segment, as he entered for starter Alex Bregman. Lindor moved Chapman around, specifically moving the Platinum Glove winner a bit further towards the left field foul line. Knowing Chapman’s range, he didn’t want to run into the 220-pounder inadvertently chasing a pop up.
“It’d take me a while to get back up,” he said.
Lindor was asked his thoughts on the A’s All-Star infielder and Home Run Derby participant, and gushed about the 26-year old third baseman.
“He’s a great defensive player, he can hit, he can do it all, but at the end of the day, he’s an even better person,” Lindor said. “It’s fun to watch him play on a daily basis, the highlights and stuff. It’s pretty cool.”
As he and the FOX broadcast crew chatted, Hendriks became the third Australian to ever play in an All-Star Game, pumping 96- and 97-mph fastballs and flipping a couple breaking balls for good measure, including that accidental curve when his cleat caught the mound.
Though Hendriks gave up a solo homer to the Colorado Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon — his first All-Star hit in nine at-bats — he didn’t allow anything else, catching Kris Bryant looking at 95 down the middle, fanning Trevor Story on 95 down the middle and getting Home Run Derby champ Pete Alonso to chase a 97-mph fastball off the plate away.
After entering on defense in the sixth, Chapman’s first All-Star at-bat came leading off the seventh. Brandon Woodruff pitched around Chapman — who owns a .385 average at Progressive Field (10-for-26) with five extra-base hits — for a six-pitch walk. Oakland’s third baseman went first-to-third on a James McCann single to right, and scored on a Xander Bogaerts double play to give the American League a 3-1 lead, chasing Woodruff.
Smith, owner of 23 straight saves, took over, and on his first career All-Star pitch — a 94-mph fastball inside to Joey Gallo — he surrendered a solo homer. He had allowed just two home runs to left-handed hitters in his last three seasons combined. Two pitches later, he got Lindor to ground out to third on a highlight-reel pick from Mike Moustakas, ending the inning.
The National League loaded the bases with two outs and scored two runs in the eighth, but that run allowed by Smith would wind up being the Junior Circuit’s winning margin.
The A’s will begin the second half at home on Friday against the Chicago White Sox at 7:07 p.m., while the Giants start in Milwaukee, sending rookie Shaun Anderson to the mound in a 5:10 p.m. start. Madison Bumgarner will start on Saturday, providing he feels no ill effects from his left elbow contusion suffered in his final start of the first half.