SAN DIEGO -- A festive Tuesday night in San Diego's East Village quickly became a Royal affair, as Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez powered the American League to a 4-2 victory in the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard.
Hosmer and Perez both homered in a three-run second inning, sending Red Sox icon David Ortiz off with a victory in his final All-Star Game. Hosmer tacked on an RBI single an inning later and became the first Royal since Bo Jackson in 1989 to take home MVP honors.
The Indians' Corey Kluber pitched a perfect second to pick up the win for the Junior Circuit, which has now won four straight, and he also became the first Tribe pitcher to win an All-Star Game since now-Mets hurler Bartolo Colon in 1998.
The Cubs' Kris Bryant put the National League ahead in the first, launching a solo shot off the scoreboard beyond the left-field first deck. Miami's Marcell Ozuna would tack on an RBI single in the fourth, but the AL bullpen didn't falter after that.
The game's most dramatic moment came in the top of the eighth, when Astros righty Will Harris punched out the Cardinals' Aledmys Diaz with the bases loaded. Harris' heroics kept the AL in front by two, before Baltimore's Zach Britton worked a smooth ninth to record the save.
"It's baseball; we face All-Stars all the time," Harris said. "It's no different. You just want to do your job, and now the game counts for so much. With home-field advantage, there's a little bit extra on the line which makes it that much more fun."
Of course, the win means an AL club will have home-field advantage in the World Series (something the reigning-champion Royals would know a thing or two about). Six of the last seven title winners have done so with the benefit of home field -- and nine of 13 overall, since the rule was implemented in 2003.
"We don't know who is going to be representing the American League, but we know how much that home-field advantage helped us," said Hosmer. " ... We're glad that we could secure it for the American League. It's something we all set out to accomplish before the game started."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Peace out, Papi: Playing in his final Midsummer Classic, 10-time All-Star Ortiz smacked a rocket to first base in the top of the first, but it was picked deftly by the NL's Anthony Rizzo. That was the only official at-bat of the night for Ortiz. He walked in the third and was removed for a pinch-runner to a rousing ovation from fans and players alike. Ortiz, who is batting .332 and leads the Majors in on-base percentage and slugging, plans to retire after the season. More >
"It's something that I'll never forget, when you see all your boys," Ortiz said of being greeted by his teammates as he left the field. "Pretty much everybody in this dugout has been related to me one way or another."
Bryant's back in town: While playing college ball at the University of San Diego, Bryant became a bit of a local legend with tales of his prodigious power. Evidently, nothing's changed. Bryant launched the first pitch he saw from AL starter Chris Sale out to left at 111 mph -- the second hardest-hit ball against Sale in 2016. More >
"It was a good couple days for me," said Bryant, who pointed out that he's still 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against the White Sox ace during the regular season. "I got to see some people that I haven't seen in a while, had a couple of them here at the game and was able to hit the home run. It was a special moment. I really wanted to just enjoy it and take it all in, and I think I accomplished my goal."
Can't get Trout out:Mike Trout's first-inning single increased his All-Star Game hitting streak to five -- and he's recorded a hit in his first at-bat on all five occasions. Dave Winfield, Joe Morgan and Mickey Mantle hold the all-time record with hits in seven straight. Trout, who finished 1-for-3, is now 6-for-13 with four extra-base hits all-time in the Midsummer Classic. More >
"I'm enjoying it more; I know what I'm going to do," Trout said of his fifth All-Star experience. "The guys in there do a good job keeping me in the right line, where I'm going at the right time, and I just try to enjoy every minute of it. This time it went so fast."
Royal reunion: Along with Hosmer and Perez, NL starter Johnny Cueto was also a driving force behind the Royals' 2015 World Series run. But on Tuesday, Hosmer and Perez got to face Cueto as All-Star opponents. The current Royals certainly got the better of their former teammate. Hosmer smacked an opposite-field solo blast into the first row, before Perez launched a go-ahead two-run shot, two batters later, putting the AL on top, 3-1. More >
"I felt like a proud papa there in the second inning after those two guys gave us the lead, and I was really excited," said Royals skipper Ned Yost, who was managing the AL. "It's been a long time since I've been that proud of two players in a moment like that."
Will thrills: Yankees left-hander Andrew Miller loaded the bases with two down in the eighth, prompting Yost to call upon Harris, a first-time All-Star, in the game's pivotal moment. Harris ran the count full on Diaz, before painting the outside corner with strike three to escape the threat. More >
"That's everything you can want when you come to an All-Star Game," Diaz said. "Bases loaded and a chance to hit. I tried to do my best, and he threw me a good pitch on 3-2, and he got me."
Hometown heroes: Fan-favorite Wil Myers roped a two-out double in the fifth, making him the first player to record an extra-base hit in a hometown All-Star Game since Mariners outfielder Mike Cameron did so in 2001. He's also the first Padre with an extra-base hit at the Midsummer Classic since Ken Caminiti in 1996. One inning earlier, southpaw Drew Pomeranz tossed a scoreless fourth and left to a standing ovation. More >
"The fans were just going crazy since we're here in our home city," Pomeranz said. "Especially when they announced both of us. It was pretty awesome. It's pretty special to have your first one anywhere, but even more so here."
"When I'm in the clubhouse in the All-Star Game, I get really impressed, to be honest with you, with the talent that MLB has. At the same time, those kids, they come back to you and embrace you. It's an unbelievable experience." -- Ortiz
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Despite the loss, the NL still holds a one-game lead in the all-time series, which now sits at 43-42-2. In fact, the two teams have been so close over the years that the NL holds a one-run edge, 360-359. But the American League has been noticeably dominant of late, having won 22 of the past 29.
REPLAY FOR RECORD BOOKS
Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy led off the fifth inning by bouncing a slow chopper that was bobbled by Jose Altuve at second base. Altuve recovered and fired to first, where Murphy was initially ruled out. But NL manager Terry Collins initiated the first replay review in All-Star Game history, and the call was promptly overturned.
HONORING MR. PADRE
In a goosebumps-inducing ceremony before the game, Major League Baseball announced that it would name the NL batting title after legendary Padre Tony Gwynn, and its AL crown after Rod Carew. That was followed by a video tribute on the Petco Park scoreboard honoring Mr. Padre and leaving no dry eyes among the 42,386 in attendance.