After a hard fought doubleheader on the softball diamond, I returned home and turned on the All-Star game in time for the ninth inning. My only objective at that point was to catch a Nate McLouth plate appearance. When the game slipped into extra innings, I got my wish. Nate led off the top of the tenth against Mariano Rivera. He put together a quality at-bat against the future Hall of Famer, working the count to 3-2. But on the eighth pitch of the confrontation, Rivera painted one of his famous cutters on the outside corner, sending McLouth back to the dugout. Disappointing, but there’s no shame in being beaten by a pitcher as accomplished as Rivera.
After that, I went back to being a baseball fan, as I realized I was watching a low-scoring, extra-inning All-Star game. Nothing to complain about there. I was enthralled by the bottom of the tenth inning. I shook my head as Dan Uggla put runners on the corners with consecutive errors to start the inning. I watched in admiration as Aaron Cook played Houdini, picking up his struggling second baseman. I celebrated when Miguel Tejada ended the inning with his impressive defense. Sitting on the floor, still wearing a sweaty softball t-shirt, infield dirt caked on most of my clothes and body, I was a child in awe of this wonderful game.
When Michael Young stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 11th with the winning run on second, I thought back to his clutch triple in the 2006 game at PNC Park. Would he be the All-Star hero again? A few pitchers later, he grounded a single into center. That would do it. He had won the game again. But McLouth, who had not been on my mind since his last at-bat, reached the ball quickly and fired to the plate. The throw was strong and accurate, and Russell Martin made a fine play to pick the ball out of the dirt and apply the tag. I proudly jumped to my feet in glee. Nate had just saved the game for the National League. I could go to sleep happy.
When the game went 15 innings, McLouth managed to accrue four at-bats. He finished 1 for 4 with a bunt single, including a fly out to the warning track in the 14th inning. Nothing special at the plate, but he gave the NL a chance to win with his outfield assist. A tip of the cap to Nate.
Also, Michael Young finally managed to produce the winning RBI with a walk-off sac fly in the 15th inning.