MINNEAPOLIS — Derek Jeter soaked in the adulation from fans and players during one more night on baseball’s national stage, set the tone for the American League with a pregame speech and delivered two final All-Star hits.
Mike Trout, perhaps the top candidate to succeed the 40-year-old Yankees captain as the face of the game, seemed ready to assume the role with a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double that earned him MVP honours.
On a summer evening filled with reminders of generational change, the AL kept up nearly two decades of dominance by beating the National League 5-3 in the All-Star game Tuesday for its 13th win in 17 years.
Miguel Cabrera homered to help give the AL champion home-field advantage for the World Series.
No matter what else happened, it seemed destined to be another special event for Jeter.
He received a 63-second standing ovation when he walked to the plate leading off the bottom of the first, another rousing cheer when he led off the third and about two minutes of applause after AL manager John Farrell sent Alexei Ramirez to shortstop to replace him at the start of the fourth. As Frank Sinatra’s recording of New York, New York boomed over the Target Field speakers and his parents watched from the stands, Jeter repeatedly waved to the crowd, exchanged handshakes and hugs in the AL dugout and then came back onto the field for a curtain call.
While not as flashy as Mariano Rivera’s All-Star farewell at Citi Field last year, when all the other players left the great reliever alone on the field for an eighth-inning solo bow, Jeter also tried not to make a fuss.
A 14-time All-Star who was MVP of the 2000 game in Atlanta, he announced in February this will be his final season. His hits left him with a .481 All-Star average (13 for 27), just behind Charlie Gehringer’s .500 record (10 for 20) for players with 20 or more at-bats.
While the Yankees are .500 at the break and in danger of missing the post-season in consecutive years for the first time in two decades, Jeter and the Angels’ Trout gave a boost to whichever AL team reaches the World Series.
The AL improved to 9-3 since the All-Star game started deciding which league gets Series home-field advantage; 23 of the last 28 titles were won by teams scheduled to host four of a possible seven games.
Detroit’s Max Scherzer, in line to be the most-prized free agent pitcher after the season, pitched a scoreless fifth for the victory, and Glen Perkins got the save in his home ballpark.
Pat Neshek, a hometown favourite whose brother works on the Target Field grounds crew, took the loss.
The AL won for the first time in three tries in Minnesota; it lost 6-5 at Metropolitan Stadium in 1965 and 6-1 at the normally homer-friendly Metrodome, where not one longball was hit under its Teflon roof in 1985.
Target Field, a $545 million, limestone-encased jewel that opened in 2010, produced an All-Star cycle just eight batters in, with hitters showing off flashy neon-bright spikes and fielders wearing All-Star caps with special designs for the first time.
With the late sunset — the sky didn’t darken until the fifth inning, well after 9 o’clock — there was bright sunshine when Jeter was cheered before his first at-bat. He was introduced by a recording of late Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard’s deep monotone: “Now batting for the American League, from the New York Yankees, the shortstop, number two, Derek Jeter. Number two.
St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright left his glove on the mound and backed up toward second, clapping along with the crowd of 41,048. When Jeter finally stepped into the batter’s box, he took a ball and lined a 90 mph cutter down the right-field line for a double.
“I was going to give him a couple pipe shots just to — he deserved it,” Wainwright said. “I thought he was going to hit something hard to the right side for a single or an out. I probably should have pitched him a little bit better.”
Jeter appreciated the move, saying “for him to do that meant a lot to me.”
And Wainwright’s unorthodox decision was endorsed by Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
“He knew he was going to do the right thing,” Kershaw said. “He’s a class act.”
Trout, the 22-year-old Los Angeles outfielder who finished second to Cabrera in AL MVP voting in each of the last two seasons, followed Jeter in the first by tripling off the right-field wall.
After Robinson Cano struck out, Cabrera lined a sinker over the left-field wall for a 3-0 lead — just the fourth home run in the last six All-Star games.
Jeter then hit a soft single into right off Alfredo Simon leading off the third but was stranded.
The NL, which still holds a 43-40-2 advantage in the series, came back on consecutive RBI doubles by Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy off Jon Lester that made it 3-2. Lucroy’s run-scoring double against Chris Sale tied the score in the fourth.
The AL went ahead for good in the fifth against Neshek, the St. Louis reliever who grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park and started his career with the Twins.
Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris hit one-out singles, and Trout hit an RBI double down the third-base line that was ruled fair by umpire Scott Barry. Because the ball landed in front of the umpire — it was real close to the line — it was not reviewable under baseball’s new replay rules by Jerry Layne, the umpire monitoring on video at the Replay Operations Center in New York.
Jose Altuve followed with a sacrifice fly off Tyler Clippard that made it 5-3.
NOTES: Next year’s All-Star game is in Cincinnati.