The all-Jeter-all-the-time All-Star game started the way it was supposed to Tuesday night when Derek Jeter dived to his left for a shot off Andrew McCutchen’s bat and rifled a throw to first base.
The fact McCutchen legged out an infield hit made no difference.
The uniform of the retiring New York Yankees shortstop was dirty and the Target Field lovefest officially had begun.
The American League wound up with a 5-3 victory in front of 41,048 in one of the more entertaining All-Star games recently.
Angels star Mike Trout was selected the most valuable player after hitting a double and a triple and driving in two runs.
Trout said Jeter spoke to his AL teammates before the game, just to say thanks.
“We should be thanking him,” Trout said. “What he brings to the game. And he just tells us it goes by quick and for us to enjoy every moment of this, with being together with the best in the league.”
Jeter finished two for two with and scored a run before being removed after taking the field in the fourth inning. Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez replaced Jeter and gave him a big hug, igniting another crescendo of applause, the doffing of the cap, more dugout love and a curtain call as a recording of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York” blared over the public-address system.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but the manager came up to me and told me I was going to go into the game in the fourth inning,” Ramirez said. “It’s such a great honor to have that moment, such an American baseball legend. I was nervous when I was told to go out there and take the place of a baseball legend. I had to take off my hat and show my respect. It was a great moment.”
It was a fitting farewell to the face of baseball, a Hall of Fame member in waiting who will be difficult to replace after 20 seasons.
“I’ll miss all of it,” Jeter said. “I’m pretty sure I will. I’ve been doing this since I’ve been, what, 5 years old and playing baseball. And when I finish I won’t be doing it, so I’m sure I’ll miss the competition, but the time has come. This is the end of the road for me.”
After a taped introduction from late Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard, Jeter received a long and loud standing ovation, from players and fans alike, before his first at-bat leading off the first. He promptly doubled to right on Adam Wainwright’s first pitch, a 90-mph fastball. Trout followed with a triple and Miguel Cabrera lined a two-run home run to give the AL a 3-0 lead.
But Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester was rocked in the top of the second inning, giving up consecutive run-scoring doubles to Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy. After Jeter’s farewell, the National League tied the score in the fourth on Lucroy’s second run-scoring double.
With two on and one out in the fifth, the AL went back in front on Trout’s run-scoring double and Jose Altuve’s sacrifice fly.