With Serious Implications Set Aside, All-Star Game Loosens Its Collar

“I didn’t know the rule changed,” said Cano, who replaced the injured Starlin Castro of the Yankees. “Now you don’t have to win to start the World Series. When I found out, I said, ‘I might get an at-bat — now it don’t mean anything.’

“I really, honestly, like that way. That way, you’re able now to joke around, make the game more fun, like the way it used to be before. That’s what people and fans love now these days, especially joking around with social media.”

Cano, who was named the most valuable player, punctuated the plight of the Chicago Cubs, who are under .500 and count Davis as their only All-Star. The Cubs won the World Series last November, but only Davis — who was not on the team then — accompanied Manager Joe Maddon and his staff to the All-Star Game.

“It was a Cubs pitcher,” said the A.L. manager, Brad Mills, the bench coach of the Cleveland Indians, who lost the World Series to Chicago. “That was kind of nice.”

The Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who launched homers all over Marlins Park in the Home Run Derby on Monday, went 0 for 3 in his All-Star debut, with a strikeout, groundout and flyout to center. The Mets’ only All-Star, Michael Conforto, singled in the seventh but struck out on a 98-mile-an-hour fastball from Craig Kimbrel to end the ninth inning, stranding the winning run on third for the National League.

“I always envisioned myself being in that spot and hopefully being able to come through,” Conforto said. “I wanted it bad. I wanted it real bad. But Kimbrel’s got some good stuff.”

The Marlins hosted for the first time, as their owner, Jeffrey Loria, finally showed off his stylish but controversial ballpark — opened in 2012 and built mostly with taxpayer money — in the city’s Little Havana district. The All-Star Game will quite likely bring a close, more or less, to Loria’s stormy tenure in Miami, which included no playoff appearances after the 2003 World Series title, and many wrenching trades.


Washington outfielder Bryce Harper making a catch for the National League in the second.

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Loria is trying to sell the team, perhaps for as much as $1.3 billion. Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed Tuesday that “three viable bidding groups” were deep into negotiations, though Loria seemed agitated when asked about it.

“I don’t even think about it,” he said. “I do not think about it. There’s no deal, so stop talking ‘deal.’ At some point, maybe. Everybody sells sometime, maybe.”

One player Loria did sign to a long-term contract — the slugger Giancarlo Stanton, whose $325 million deal is the richest in baseball — was the starting designated hitter for the N.L. Stanton struck out against Chris Sale and Dellin Betances on Tuesday, then bounced out to the catcher against Brandon Kintzler. He was eliminated in the first round of the Home Run Derby on Monday, ceding the spotlight to Judge.

“It’s still fun,” Stanton said. “If I look back dwelling on it, what’s the point of being an All-Star if you’re going to be mad about things? Just have fun.”

Betances, the Yankees’ setup man, wobbled in his scoreless third inning. Betances has been an All-Star in each of the past four seasons, a feat matched only by Sale, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. But he has been troubled by wildness this season, with 8.3 walks per nine innings, and the problem persisted on Tuesday.

Betances had fanned two hitters in a row, and had Bryce Harper down in the count, 0-2, with two swinging strikes. Harper did not swing after that, taking four balls in a row.

“I feel like he’s a guy you can go up there and just take,” Harper said on the field, as picked up by a Fox microphone. “He’ll walk you.”

Betances said he felt “out of whack” while walking the next hitter, Buster Posey, but otherwise felt fine. Asked about facing Harper, Betances said: “It’s frustrating. Obviously Harper’s one of the best hitters. I got him to chase a couple, but then after that he wasn’t chasing the breaking ball down. I ended up losing him, but he put up a great A.B.”

Harper said later: “He’s able to throw his pitches for strikes in any given spot, but there’s sometimes where I go up there and just take as much as I can. If he punches me out, he punches me out, and I tip my cap. It’s part of what I do.”

Betances also threw two wild pitches in the inning, making him the first pitcher with two in an All-Star Game since John Smoltz in 1993. But he escaped his scoreless inning by retiring Daniel Murphy on a groundout with the bases loaded.

Neither team broke through until the top of the fifth, when the A.L. scored against Alex Wood. With two outs and the bases empty, Jonathan Schoop – the only Baltimore All-Star – lined a double down the third base line, and scored on a bloop single to right by Minnesota’s Miguel Sano.

Molina tied the score in the sixth with an opposite-field homer to the right field bullpen off Ervin Santana. But four relievers — Roberto Osuna, Chris Devenski, Kimbrel and Andrew Miller – stymied the N.L. the rest of the way. The Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, who represented the winning run and had homered off Miller in Cleveland last month, flailed at a slider to end the game.

Home-field advantage for the World Series, meanwhile, has not been determined. It will go to the team with the better record.

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