CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

{"content":["all-star_game" ] }

Cubs arms stand out at All-Star Game

Cubs arms stand out at ASG

NEW YORK -- You couldn't swing a rolled-up tabloid in the National League's All-Star clubhouse without picking off a Cub or two.

There were eight players from Chicago's North Side in there -- a record-tying complement. Two of the Cubbies were injured and just along for the ride, but that still left six to impact the 79th Midsummer Classic.

One of them, right-hander Carlos Zambrano, hoped there would be strength in numbers, and a voice in securing an NL victory and the accompanying World Series home-field advantage for their own possible benefit.

"We're excited to be here in such numbers. I just want to win -- you know, in case we go to the World Series. We all hope to get a shot at deciding the outcome," Zambrano said, before scaling the Yankee Stadium mound and doing just that.

Picking up for NL starter Ben Sheets' two scoreless innings, Zambrano pitched two shutout innings of his own and was in line for the victory until J.D. Drew erased the NL's 2-0 lead with his two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.

That didn't happen, but in place of Zambrano's personal thrill, there was a multitude of public thrills before the AL did its thing by pulling out a 4-3 win in the 15th inning, despite later Cubs pitching heroics.

Reprising his days as a closer, Ryan Dempster came on in the ninth to strike out the side -- Ian Kinsler and Dioner Navarro swinging, Drew looking -- and send Yankee Stadium's ultimate All-Star Game into extra innings.

And Carlos Marmol, the Cubs' stingy setup man, entered the game in the 13th inning to pitch a scoreless frame, striking out two.

The overtime affair was infectious for both fans and participants, proof of the latter being how many of them stuck around after leaving the game.

For instance, Cubs rookie catcher Geovany Soto, whose night ended after five innings, was still around 10 innings later to watch the end.


"On a scale of one to 10, I'd rate it a 50. It was awesome. A better stage, you couldn't have."
-- Geovany Soto

"About the seventh, I went out to the bullpen to help out there," Soto said. "As the game went on, I was thinking it had to be the longest [All-Star Game] ever. It was history in the making.

"On a scale of one to 10, I'd rate it a 50. It was awesome. A better stage, you couldn't have."

The Cubs' two history-making rookie starters, Soto and center fielder Kosuke Fukudome, didn't fare quite as well as the Chicago pitchers.

Both went 0-for-2, and each was struck out on three pitches in the fifth inning by Ervin Santana, the Angels' right-hander who had also surrendered a Matt Holliday homer that snapped a scoreless tie.

Fukudome's heritage was saluted by FOX during his second at-bat, when his name and statistics were displayed on the screen in Japanese characters.

Zambrano allowed a single to the first man he faced, Ichiro Suzuki, then induced Derek Jeter to bounce into a double play that cleared the bases.

After striking out Alex Rodriguez to start the fourth and getting Manny Ramirez on a grounder, Zambrano saw Milton Bradley ground to short and hustle Hanley Ramirez into a throwing error.

No problem. Zambrano coolly picked Bradley off first.

Before getting Manny on the grounder, Zambrano even provided some levity by arcing a slow pitch over his head. That got two Ramirezes laughing -- Manny, who giggled in the batter's box, and fellow Cub Aramis, who rolled with laughter on the NL bench.

"When I was jogging in from the bullpen, I was a little bit shaking," Zambrano said. "But after I threw a pitch or two, I was OK. I wasn't really nervous, just feeling the situation."

Soto and Fukudome were only the fourth and fifth Cubs rookie All-Stars ever, quite noteworthy considering 78 of them preceded this one, and the first in more than a half century, since right-hander Sam Jones got two outs in the 1955 edition in Milwaukee's County Stadium.

The two others didn't even get in the games: second baseman Dan Johnson in 1944 and catcher Toby Atwell in 1952.

The Cubs clique was certainly demographically correct. Major League Baseball's game notes proudly pointed out that seven starters and a total of 23 All-Stars were foreign born -- a common toast given the game's global commitments.

Well, the Cubs contingent fit that description. Ryan Dempster is a native of Canada, and Fukudome is from Japan. Marmol and Ramirez are from the Dominican, and Zambrano is from Venezuela. Furthermore, the injury-deprived Cubs All-Stars included Dominican Alfonso Soriano. Kerry Wood, who also missed the game due to injury, and Soto of Puerto Rico were the only Cubs All-Stars with natural U.S. ties.

"That's pretty impressive," Dempster said. "It shows how the game has developed all over. When I started out, we still didn't have many great players from Canada. Now there's three of us in this game [the Dodgers' Russell Martin and Minnesota's Justin Morneau being the others]."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["all-star_game" ] }
{"content":["all-star_game" ] }