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MLB ALL-STAR

American League takes All-Star Game 2-1 with Robinson Cano 10th inning blast

By Rob Longley, Toronto Sun

American League's Seattle Mariners Robinson Cano (22), rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the tenth inning, during the MLB baseball All-Star Game, Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

American League's Seattle Mariners Robinson Cano (22), rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the tenth inning, during the MLB baseball All-Star Game, Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI - Perhaps Aaron Judge took all of the air out of Marlins Park with his sensational home run derby win the night before.

At least it felt that way for much of the night when the sluggers weren’t slugging and the hitters weren’t hitting effectively and the 2017 all star game was plodding along as a dud.

And then Seattle Mariners star Robinson Cano came to the plate in the top of the 10th with the score tied at 1-1 and did his thing. The aging star’s clutch solo home run not only game the American League a 2-1 extra-innings win over the National League in the Midsummer Classic, it earned Sano a new car as the game MVP.

Cano, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter back in the seventh, deposited a 1-1 shot off of Cubs closer Wade Davis into the visitor’s bullpen in right field. And the veteran certainly had designs on ending the night early as the all star game made its first visit to Florida.

“I know I was facing one of the best closers in the game,” Cano said of facing the bullpen ace for the reigning World Series champs. “I was just ready. Whatever he throws over the plate, I’m going to swing.”

And swing the eight-time all star did for another career highlight, one that ended the low-scoring affair in front of a sellout crowd of 37,188. It was fitting as well that the Dominican-born star came through on a night when MLB honoured Latino legends in a pre-game ceremony.

“It’s always good to be be able to accomplish something great, especially in front of my family,” Cano said. “As a kid you watch Griffey an those guys that come to the all star game winning MVP … you want to get that feeling. I already got it once for the home run Derby. It feels great.”

The score had been tied at 1-1 since the sixth inning with the AL holding a 10-7 edge in hits. Yadier Molina tied it up for the NL with a solo homer of his own in the sixth, the first homer by a St. Louis Cardinals player at the all star game since Reggie Smith in 1974.

Cano’s winner certainly provided a dramatic ending to a game that was light on scoring, despite the presence of so many home-run hitters in a season where the baseball is exiting the ballpark at a record rate.

It was the first extra-inning home run since Tony Perez hit one out 50 years previous. And perhaps there was an omen - Perez was one of the greats of the past on hand to throw out the opening pitch.

Cano became the first American League player to hit an extra-innings homer in all star game history. And he did it off of Davis, who had allowed just one home run in the past two seasons.

With the victory, the American League extended its winning streak in the Midsummer Classic to five. The AL is now 23-6-1 in the past 30 all star games although this is the first since 2003 that won’t see the winner secure home field advantage for its pennant winner for the World Series.

Cano became just the third Mariners player to be named all star game MVP joining Ichiro (2007) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1992.) With his best days behind him, Cano was third on the AL depth chart at second base and was a late injury addition to the team.

And he came through in timely fashion as available pitchers in both bullpens were getting thin. A total of 57 players saw action, 29 by the NL and 28 by the AL.

“We were thrilled,” said American League manager Brad Mills, who was filling in for his boss with the Cleveland Indians, Terry Francona. “Nobody wants, in a game like this, for it to go too long. The last thing we wanted to do was get pitchers in that shouldn't probably be in the game, and risk an injury or something.”

rlongley@postmedia.com

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