DENVER — It will be an All-Star Game remembered for Shohei Ohtani pitching a scoreless inning for the victory and getting two at-bats as the designated hitter.
That bit of history was wrapped up by the third inning. Then the Red Sox players went to work to help the American League defeat the National League, 5-2, on Tuesday night.
Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers contributed to a pair of runs scoring. Nate Eovaldi and Matt Barnes each pitched scoreless innings as the AL won the 91st Midsummer Classic. It was the AL’s eighth straight win.
Bogaerts was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Devers 1 for 2 with a double in his All-Star debut. J.D. Martinez was 0 for 2, striking out twice.
“It was good to help the team,” said Bogaerts, a three-time All-Star. “It was fun seeing Devers get his first one. I was so happy for him.
“He was a little nervous in the beginning, but he definitely settled down after that. So once we talked about that a little bit, I kind of settled down also and enjoyed it and put together some good swings.”
Perhaps haunted by memories of being swept in the 2007 World Series, the sellout crowd at Coors Field booed the Red Sox at every opportunity.
Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won the Ted Williams Award as MVP, belting a long homer and driving in two runs.
“You have to celebrate it now that we’re on the same team,” Devers said of Guerrero. “Like, if he hits it against my team during the regular season, I can’t celebrate it. But now you can have fun with it, and you can celebrate with him.”
WELCOME TO THE #ALLSTARGAME, VLADDY. pic.twitter.com/h3c93bBMn2— MLB (@MLB) July 14, 2021
Barnes pitched the eighth inning and allowed two weak hits before walking Washington’s Juan Soto with two outs to load the bases. Kris Bryant of the Cubs swung at a 3-and-0 pitch and lined out as left fielder Jared Walsh of the Angels made a sliding catch.
“I’m really glad it was zero. It got a little dicey there for a second,” Barnes said. “We had a lead, so I was trying to protect the lead, but I’m trying to take it all in and trying to have as much fun with the guys as possible. It was awesome.”
Barnes, also a first-time All-Star, threw 25 pitches. He said he would be available against the Yankees on Thursday.
“Yeah, we’ll be ready. It’s not the first time,” he said.
Prior to the game, baseball honored the memory of Hall-of-Famer Henry Aaron with a video of his career highlights.
Braves star Freddie Freeman and Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge escorted Aaron’s widow, Billye, to the plate where she was presented with a painting of her husband and a jersey signed by all of the All-Stars.
Former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw out the first pitch, which bounced. Former Montreal Expos draft pick Tom Brady surely would have thrown a strike.
Jared Walsh has never played left field in the majors.— MLB (@MLB) July 14, 2021
He makes this catch to save a couple runs in the #AllStarGame. 😱 pic.twitter.com/XcqXcIDPcy
From there, the focus was Ohtani for three innings as MLB bent the rules to let the Japanese star show off the full range of his talent.
Ohtani grounded out to second leading off the game. He then took the mound in the bottom of the inning and retired the side in order on 14 pitches, one of them a 100.2-mile-per-hour fastball that Nolan Arenado fouled off.
Ohtani remained in the game and grounded out to first base in the third inning. Martinez replaced him as DH in the fifth inning.
Eovaldi pitched the fourth inning for the AL. He retired Arenado on a groundout. Freeman followed with a single, but Nick Castellanos of Cincinnati grounded into a double play started by Bogaerts.
“Definitely had my nerves,” said Eovaldi, a first-time All-Star.” I was waiting down there in the bullpen and once the start of the game hit, I had the butterflies.
“I knew ahead of time I was going to be coming in for the fourth inning. There’s definitely adrenaline going out there and competing. I was just trying to go out there and throw strikes.”
It was a 10-pitch inning for Eovaldi. Sox manager Alex Cora jokingly predicted last week that the righthander would hit 102 miles per hour on the radar gun. But Eovaldi settled for 98.8.
“You want to go out there and compete against the best,” he said. “I say that a lot. I want to go out there and compete against the best hitters out there and the best lineups and try to shut them down.”
The Red Sox contributed to the AL building a 4-0 lead by the fifth inning.
Facing Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes, Judge walked leading off the second inning. Devers bounced a double down the right field line, sending Judge to third. Marcus Semien followed with an RBI single.
“Thankfully, it was a hit even though it was a rollover. I was just going out there to be aggressive and not be afraid in that moment,” Devers said. “I was just trying to make a good swing at anything that was coming my way.
Guerrero hit a majestic 468-foot home run to left field off Burnes in the third inning.
In the fifth, Toronto’s Teoscar Hernández led off with a double against Miami’s Trevor Rogers. Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins reached on an error.
Martinez struck out, but Guerrero’s groundout scored Hernández. Bogaerts then grounded an opposite-field single into right to score Mullins.
Xander Bogaerts is simply a good hitter. #AllStarGame pic.twitter.com/PRzlVZZ1lY— MLB (@MLB) July 14, 2021
Bogaerts might have gone 3 for 3 if not for conducting an interview during his first inning at-bat against Max Scherzer when he struck out.
“It was fun, something different but definitely the concentration level is a bit not where it’s supposed to be,” he said.
Philadelphia’s J.T. Realmuto homered off Detroit’s Gregory Soto in the fifth inning to get the NL on the scoreboard. The AL got that back when Tampa Bay’s Mike Zunino drove a Taijuan Walker pitch over the fence in right center.
“It’s special, but this place is really just to come have fun, especially with the guys that you’re not teammates with,” Devers said. “Like Nelson Cruz, who’s a superstar You don’t know how much longer he has in the game. It’s really just to come out here and have fun.”
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe. Julian McWilliams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.