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Robinson Cano's solo home run in the 10th inning lifts American League in All-Star Game

Robinson Cano's solo home run in the 10th inning lifts American League in All-Star Game
Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners celebrates hitting a home run in the 10th inning against the National League during the 88th MLB All-Star Game at Marlins Park in Miami. (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

There was an at-bat interrupted by a cellphone photo. There was the formerly disgraced Alex Rodriguez, rehabilitated for the role of interviewing players as they warmed up between innings. There were right fielders wearing microphones on the field, chatting with national television announcers between pitches.

The All-Star game has been restored to its rightful place as a true exhibition game, and this one was an exhibition of baseball circa 2017: home runs and strikeouts, making baseball fun again among the yawn-inducing parade of strikeouts.

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Robinson Cano hit the home run that won the game, a solo shot off Wade Davis in the 10th inning, powering the American League to a 2-1 victory. The host Miami Marlins announced a sellout, but tickets at face value still were available late Tuesday afternoon, and the ballpark was quiet and half-empty by the time Cano hit his game-winning home run.

The game ended when Andrew Miller struck out Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger with the potential tying run on base.

The AL tied the National League in the all-time series 43-43, with two ties. The AL won for the fifth consecutive All-Star game.

Yadier Molina also hit a home run, also a solo shot. Of the 30 outs made by the winning team, 14 came by strikeout.

In the ninth inning, when the AL had what would have been the go-ahead run at second base with none out against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, the next three batters struck out.

That would-be winning run got to third base when Jansen was charged a balk for a quick pitch, a sin to which he readily admitted with a smile during the game and in an interview after the game.

"You're just having fun out there, messing with the hitter," Jansen said. "I set up to quick-pitch him and I forgot about the runner at second base. It was embarrassing."

Jansen joked that he was trying to become the first Dodger to balk in an All-Star game. That honor is now his.

There could be no better expression of the joy with which players regard the game — with nothing at stake — than the moment when Seattle's Nelson Cruz approached home plate in the sixth inning.

He had a bat in his hand and a cellphone in his pocket. Cruz handed the phone to Molina, the catcher, who appeared a bit stunned but nonetheless agreed to take a picture.

"That was weird," Molina said. "I was confused."

Cruz then put his arm around plate umpire Joe West, who smiled sheepishly. This was the All-Star game for the Instagram generation.

"I thought it was pretty funny," Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. "I think everybody enjoyed it, except maybe the guy pitching.

“I’m just glad it wasn’t Kersh [Clayton Kershaw] pitching when that happened. He doesn’t like to wait.”

In this year of the home run, it took the game's best hitters six innings to finally light up the garish sculpture beyond the outfield wall, that psychedelic monstrosity topped by a tilting marlin.

The only run to that point had come on a bloop single, a wholly unfair mark against the All-Star ledger of Alex Wood.

That Wood was here was a success in itself, and a surprise. When they broke camp, the Dodgers did not consider him one of their best five starting pitchers. Yet here he was, in the All-Star game, selected as one of the seven best starters in the National League.

The fifth inning would be his. He got the first batter on one pitch, the second on two pitches. Jonathan Schoop doubled, but no big deal. One more out, and a scoreless fifth inning would make for a nice All-Star debut for Wood.

He got a pop fly from Miguel Sano. The ball hit the ground beyond first base and just inside he foul line, as three members of the Washington Nationals — first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, econd baseman Daniel Murphy and right fielder Bryce Harper —– converged.

Wood said he “wasn’t shocked by any means” that the ball fell, because outfielders play deeper against the best hitters, and this game was full of them. He did not think Dodgers teammate Yasiel Puig, an exceptional defensive right fielder, would have caught it.

“We had a pretty good right fielder out there tonight,” Wood said. “Puig probably doesn’t get there either.”

Wood had done his job. He got the pop fly. Tough play, but a run-scoring single nonetheless. His All-Star game ERA would stand at 9.00, not 0.00.

“Good thing it doesn’t count,” Wood said.

Indeed, this time it doesn’t.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

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