Cubs’ Wade Davis allows HR in 10th, gets the loss in All-Star Game
MIAMI — The question sat right in front of Wade Davis as if on a hitting tee: Was that just the perfect way to put an end to a miserable first half for the Cubs?
“What’s that?” Davis said. “Giving up a homer to lose the game? No.”
The Cubs closer’s lips said no, but the rest of the universe said yes.
A quick review of the details: Davis, the defending World Series champions’ lone representative in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, didn’t take the mound until the 10th inning. The first batter he faced, Seattle’s Robinson Cano, took him deep for the winning run in a 2-1 American League victory.
An event that was drunk with Cubs a year ago — there were seven players on the National League roster for the game in San Diego — went on for nine innings with the only denizens of Wrigley Field in sight being manager Joe Maddon and his usual gang of assistant coaches. For about three hours, it seemed almost a sure thing that the outcome would be decided as though the Cubs didn’t even exist.
But no. Not this season. Not in the midst of the Cubs’ 43-45 misery. Not even Davis — 16-for-16 in save opportunities — could avoid this high-profile chance to come up lacking.
At least his performance in save situations remains unblemished. But he did get a bucket of All-Star defeat poured over his head. So did Maddon, who, thankfully, didn’t run out of pitchers in extra innings and have to turn a star position player into Miguel Montero or Jon Jay.
“Not at all,” Maddon said. “We had it all set up.”
Set up for defeat, anyway. But, hey, that’s Cub.
Actually, that’s the NL in recent years, too. After 88 All-Star Games, the leagues are tied at 43-43-2 and have scored the exact same number of runs: 361. Yet the AL has won five consecutive Midsummer Classics and is 23-6-1 over the last 30.
This game seemed, though, like a fresh start for all involved. That’s because it was the first All-Star Game since 2002 whose outcome wouldn’t determine home-field advantage in the World Series. That strange tradition — which had been in place since the infamous All-Star tie of ’02 — is over.
And that means the All-Star Game again is less about which team wins than it is about individual moments and seductive spectacles. One came in the bottom of the first inning when ex-White Sox ace Chris Sale, now with the Red Sox, reared back — all arms and legs and inimitably sharp angles — turned the baseball loose and blew away mountainous Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton with 98 miles an hour of four-seam fastball trailing off the plate.
Strike three. How could the White Sox ever have let him get away?
Sale — an All-Star for the sixth year in a row, the first five of those with the White Sox — never looked like a bigger deal than he did while throwing two scoreless innings clad in the duds of a legit World Series contender.
“It felt a little different,” he said. “I’m pretty excited to be wearing this uniform.”
Also excited — not that that’s a big enough word — was Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia, his team’s only representative in Miami.
Garcia made his All-Star debut as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning and went 0-for-2 at the plate. One of those outs might have been the hardest-hit ball of the game, not that Garcia was worrying about tough luck.
“I enjoyed this day like the last day of my life,” he said.
On to the second half.
Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.