American League continues domination in All-Star game

American League's Liam Hendriks, of the Chicago White Sox, right, takes oxygen on the mound during the ninth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
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American League's Liam Hendriks, of the Chicago White Sox, right, takes oxygen on the mound during the ninth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Credit: AP

DENVER — A Sho-case for Shohei Ohtani became a grand stage for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., too.

ExploreFreddie Freeman reiterates desire to spend career with Braves

Ohtani unleashed his 100 mph heat while pitching a perfect inning for the win in becoming baseball’s first two-way All-Star, Guerrero rocked Coors Field with a 468-foot home run and the American League breezed 5-2 Tuesday night for its eighth straight victory.

Guerrero was named the game’s most valuable player.

But the sport’s focus was on Ohtani from the very start.

Players on both sides climbed to the dugout rails to watch him, and the Japanese sensation went 0-for-2, grounding out twice as the AL’s leadoff man and designated hitter.

With the teams decked out in new uniforms that social media deemed a strikeout instead of a home run, it was a familiar result. Mike Zunino also connected for the AL as it improved to 46-43-2 overall in the series.

Freddie Freeman of the Braves went 1-for-2. Teammate Ozzie Albies went 1-for-2 with a double. Former Braves Mark Melancon and Craig Kimbrel pitched in the game. Melancon, who now plays for the Padres, pitched a third of an inning, with a walk and a strikeout. The Cubs’ Kimbrel pitched 2/3rds of an inning and allowed a hit.

National League's Ozzie Albies, of the Atlanta Braves, arrives at the All Star Red Carpet event with girlfriend Andrea Brazilian Miss prior to the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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National League's Ozzie Albies, of the Atlanta Braves, arrives at the All Star Red Carpet event with girlfriend Andrea Brazilian Miss prior to the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

A 27-year-old right-hander in his fourth big league season, Ohtani has dazzled. He leads the major leagues with 33 homers and is 4-1 in 13 starts as a pitcher, a two-way performance not seen since Babe Ruth in 1919 and ’20, before the Bambino largely gave up the mound for slugging.

“This has been the best experience, most memorable,” he said through translator Ippei Mizuhara. “Obviously, I’ve never played in the playoffs or World Series, so once I do that, that’s probably going to surpass it. But this has been the most memorable.”

Ohtani was a double triple-digit threat in Denver, hitting a 513-foot drive during Monday night’s Home Run Derby and throwing a 100.2 mph pitch to Nolan Arenado.

“He was as good as advertised,” Arenado said.

American League's Vladimir Guerrero Jr., of the Toronto Blue Jays, holds the MVP trophy after the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
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American League's Vladimir Guerrero Jr., of the Toronto Blue Jays, holds the MVP trophy after the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Following a full day, Ohtani slept until 10:30 a.m.

“It was a lot more tiring compared to the regular season, but if everyone had fun I’m good with it,” he said.

Major League Baseball even made a special rules tweak for Ohtani, allowing him to be replaced as a pitcher and to remain in the game as the DH after he was done pitching. He grounded out twice — Pittsburgh second baseman Adam Frazier ranged to make a nice backhanded pickup that prevented a hit against Max Scherzer starting the night.

Despite another season of strikeouts that have alarmed baseball’s leadership, NL batters whiffed 12 times while AL hitters had just three strikeouts.

Still, the result had a familiar ring. The AL has won 20 of the last 23 All-Star Games with one tie thrown in.

While everything is measured with precision these days, Guerrero’s third-inning drive against Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes was jaw-dropping even before Statcast revealed it went 468 feet, the longest since All-Star Games were wired in 2015.

Ohtani became the second straight Japanese pitcher to win the All-Star Game after the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka two years ago. Last year’s game was canceled when the season’s start was delayed by the pandemic to late July.