Vladimir Guerrero Jr. brings AL to eighth consecutive All-Star Recreation win
DENVER – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is only 22 years old but already adept at fulfilling destinies.
It’s Guerrero now, and not his Hall of Fame father, who dominates the American League as so many imagined when Vladito was a kid in oversized shorts shadowing his father on the ball court.
And after a first half in which he slammed 28 home runs and led the major leagues in batting and OPS and took him to his first all-star game, he made a promise to Blue Jays teammates Lourdes Gurriel and George Springer: Come on the MVP -Trophy of the game home.
After hitting a pitch 468 feet through Colorado’s thin air and stepping the AL to a 5-2 victory over the National League, it’s worth noting what this 6-2, 250-pound barrel of strength and joy will accomplish next could.
“Dreams come true,” said Guerrero, the game’s MVP trophy on the podium after the game. “I’ve always thought of this moment since I was a child.
“I’ve worked very hard all my life and thank God it’s happening now.”
Major League Baseball could say the same about Guerrero, Shohei Ohtani, and a bevy of other players who have provided balm for the game after a pandemic-hit 2020 and a transitional period in the game where industry leaders and fans seem to be on constant alert.
That night the most important stars shone brightest.
Ohtani made history, taking the win with a clean first inning of work, scoring twice and fulfilling his own superlative as the first player in baseball history to receive all-star selections as a hitter and pitcher. Guerrero almost beheaded and then hugged it, a surefire hall of famer.
Combined with a pitching team that only allowed eight hits, that was more than enough for the AL to claim their eighth straight All-Star triumph over the NL and their 15th in their last 18 games.
While the stage was set for two-way legend Ohtani, it was Guerrero who caught the excitement.
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At 22 years and 119 days, Guerrero became the youngest MVP of the All-Star Game. Ken Griffey Jr. was 22 years and 236 days old when he won the 1992 award.
After Ohtani led the game with a groundout, Guerrero, the Toronto Blue Jays bat, whose 28 homers were second to Ohtani 33 in the first half, was offloaded on a seat by Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
It was 111.1 miles an hour straight away and only inches from Scherzer’s head. In the regular season, the sequence might have inspired Mad Max to stomp a few laps around the man.
In this exhibit, he accepted Guerrero’s loving hug on the way back to the shelter.
“I’m alive,” said Scherzer, famous for his heterochromy, after his goalless inning. “That is the success story. I’m just grateful that I still have one blue and one brown eye. “
Guerrero said: “At the home run derby he joked and said, hey, just take it with me tomorrow. After the line trip, I just wanted to hug him.”
Guerrero’s average exit speed of 95.2 mph is second in the majors and no one has hit more than the 45 balls at at least 110 mph that he hit in the first half.
His first missile nearly damaged Scherzer; his second just damaged the NL.
Guerrero blew a Corbin Burnes pitch 468 feet into left field in the third inning, giving the AL a 2-0 lead, sending a murmur through the Coors Field crowd and a drive-by exchange with Padre’s shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr ., his colleague, inspired the second generation superstar.
He later drove in Blue Jay’s teammate Teoscar Hernandez with an RBI groundout, while Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino hit a home run from Mets right-handed Taijuan Walker.
Angels outfielder Jared Walsh, who played on left field for the first time as Major Leaguer, ended the last serious threat by slipping a sinking Kris Bryant line drive to knock Red Sox rescuer Matt Barnes out of a base overloaded one Saving the situation The eighth.
Ohtani? He made some memories of his own putting up a goalless first inning, landing twice on the ground, but also indulging in the experience that came the day after his home run derby debut.
The transition from Batter’s Box to Pitcher’s Mound looked so easy on Tuesday. His colleagues know better.
“We’re all still impressed with his ability to do that,” said Kevin Cash, manager of AL and Tampa Bay Rays. “The way he handled everything was pretty remarkable.”
The same goes for Guerrero, who has been primarily tasked with becoming a cornerstone of the Blue Jays since signing up at 16 in 2015. The rise was quick, but the final jump to superstar took a moment – took a moment – Guerrero lost more than 40 pounds last winter after gaining weight during baseball’s COVID-19 shutdown.
The game isn’t quite back. This 91st All-Star Game has shown that it is in very good hands.
“There are a lot of things we’re getting out of with the pandemic,” says Cash. (Ohtani’s) talent at getting baseball going again was a big part of it. He and Vladdy Guerrero Jr. have so much on their plate. The way they handle it with such modesty and class is what stands out. “
The audience appreciates it: every move by Ohtani was greeted noisily by the 49,000 fans who packed Coors Field on Monday and Tuesday nights.
“I was just grateful for all the cheers and support that I get,” he said.
The most significant support on Tuesday came from a powerful machine they call Vladito.