PITTSBURGH -- Padres closer Trevor Hoffman came to the Steel City determined to make a memory to last a lifetime. This was not what he had in mind. "You're never going to forget these things, the type of stage we're playing under," Hoffman said in the aftermath of one of the deepest disappointments of his great career, coughing up a save that turned into a 3-2 American League All-Star Game victory Tuesday.
"That elusive 27th out is hard to come by sometimes," he said. "You've got to slam the door with two outs, and I didn't get the job done. I let a lot of people down." Asked by manager Phil Garner to close out the All-Star Game and give the National League its first triumph since 1996, Hoffman threw 13 pitches in the ninth inning -- all for strikes. He couldn't have thrown a ball if he wanted to, which, it turns out, was precisely the case. An 0-2 fastball to Michael Young "caught too much of the plate," Hoffman lamented. The Rangers' dynamic infielder ripped it all the way to right-center for a triple to deliver the tying and go-ahead runs at PNC Park, preserving the AL's dominance of the Midsummer Classic at 9-0-1 over the past 10 shows. "I was prepared," Hoffman said. "It was great that Phil gave me the honor to finish. I felt great. My arm was loose. I threw strikes. Sometimes that's what happens." Hoffman couldn't have been more accurate -- unfortunately. The man with 460 career saves, second in history to Lee Smith's 476, got two quick outs on tappers back to the mound by Jermaine Dye and Miguel Tejada. The big crowd leaned forward, anticipating the grand finale. It never came. Paul Konerko slapped a single through the hole to left with third baseman Miguel Cabrera hugging the foul line protecting against extra bases. If the young Marlin is at normal depth, the game most likely is over.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.