By RONALD BLUM,
Posted: 2008-07-16 06:49:01
NEW YORK (July 15) – Baseball’s All-Stars came to say goodbye to Yankee Stadium – and what a long, long goodbye it was.
In a game that started Tuesday night and faded well into Wednesday, Justin Morneau slid home just in time on Michael Young’s sacrifice fly in the 15th inning, giving the American League a 4-3 victory that extended its unbeaten streak to 12.
Young ended a 4-hour, 50-minute marathon at 1:37 a.m. on the 453rd pitch, with the grand old ballpark half-empty. It was a good thing, too – neither team had any pitchers left in the bullpen, but this one was not going to end in another tie.
“It was just crazy how it seemed like it lasted forever,” Texas’ Ian Kinsler said. “It was the last year for Yankee Stadium, the last All-Star game, and it’s kind of fitting that it seemed like it lasted forever.”
The NL was given a pregame pep talk by Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, whose motto is: “Let’s play two!” And they nearly did, matching the NL’s 2-1 win at Anaheim in 1967 for the longest All-Star game ever.”
Yankee Stadium is tough, I’m telling you,” Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said. “Didn’t want it to end.”
Morneau started the winning rally with a leadoff single against loser Brad Lidge. After Dioner Navarro singled with one out, J.D. Drew walked to load the bases.
Young lofted a fly to right, and Corey Hart’s throw home took two bounces and was slightly to the first-base side of the plate. Catcher Brian McCann gloved the ball and tried a sweep tag, but Morneau sneaked his right foot in, barely ahead of the tag.
Plate umpire Derryl Cousins made the safe call, and the AL players left in the dugout rushed out to celebrate.
“It was a little deep for me,” Hart said. “I was just trying to get it as close as I could.”
The AL improved to 6-0 since the All-Star game began determining homefield advantage in the World Series and 11-0-1 since its 1996 loss in Philadelphia. And it even ended an old hex – it had been 0-9-1 in extra innings against its older rival.
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– GM Susan Polgar