Red Sox: Craig Kimbrel earns the win in 2017 MLB All-Star Game

BOSTON, MA - MAY 01: Craig Kimbrel
BOSTON, MA - MAY 01: Craig Kimbrel /

Red Sox players didn’t steal the show Tuesday night, but they did their part in securing the American League’s 2-1 win.

Chris Sale, Mookie Betts, and Craig Kimbrel were out in Miami to represent the Red Sox in Tuesday’s All-Star Game and for the first time since 2003, it wasn’t used to decide home-field advantage in the World Series.

With little on the line this year, the players took the opportunity to have fun with the game rather than put on a competitive display. That didn’t mean there weren’t exciting moments, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being okay with Nelson Cruz‘s mid-game selfie with home plate umpire Joe West if the game was nothing more than a spectacle.

Robinson Cano‘s 10th inning home run off Cubs’ closer Wade Davis was the difference in an otherwise slow game. There were flashes of excitement, though. Yadier Molina‘s tying home run in the sixth, Bryce Harper‘s diving catch and hair-flip, and Justin Upton‘s outstanding grab in the tenth come to mind.

Cano was the All-Star Game MVP, so we’ll reserve true hero honors for him. But the Red Sox trio of All-Stars played their part in the American League’s fifth straight victory in the Midsummer Classic.

Chris Sale led things off for the Junior Circuit, throwing 29 pitches over two scoreless frames. Benefiting from a limited workload, Sale was able to rear back and flash the type of velocity we haven’t seen since his rookie season. He flirted with triple digits on occasion and set down Giancarlo Stanton with a 98 mph two-seamer in the first.

The only Red Sox position player to earn a spot on the roster, Mookie Betts, wasn’t able to collect a hit in any of his at-bats. He did, however, arguably have the play of the game in the bottom of the fourth. With Nolan Arenado at first and Betts in center, he threw an absolute seed to second to record an 8-6 double play on the tagging runner.

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The third member of the Red Sox to make an appearance, and the one whose name will show most prominently on the scoresheet, was Craig Kimbrel. The star closer didn’t have his best stuff Tuesday night, but he did earn the win, tossing a scoreless ninth to set up Cano’s heroics in the tenth.

Kimbrel walked two batters in the frame, which has been an unusual sight for him this season. In 37.2 real innings, he’s walked just five. While the control wasn’t there, Kimbrel threw 12 balls to 13 strikes, he was able to keep runners from scoring nevertheless. With men on second and third, he was able to strikeout Mets left fielder Michael Conforto to end the threat.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Kimbrel acknowledged the lack of control but chalked that up to excitement in the moment.

"“For a minute there it got a little hairy, didn’t it? I felt excited, the ball was kind of jumping out of my hand a little bit tonight,” Kimbrel told reporters. “We got through it and hit the homer. It was pretty cool… I told myself to slow down a little bit. It was one of those days my arm was out there in front of my body and I was able to figure out and get enough strikes that I needed and get off the field.”"

With the win, he joins Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Jonathan Papelbon, and Josh Beckett as Red Sox pitchers to earn a win in the All-Star game.

Next: Sale tosses two scoreless innings in All-Star start

The Red Sox will have Wednesday and Thursday off before taking on the Yankees over a four-game series in Boston. The Sox hold a 3.5 game lead over New York in the AL East, with 41 games against divisional opponents scheduled for the second half of the season. They’re in control of their own destiny right now, and if they plan on making a deep run down the stretch, you can be sure that their All-Star trio will be the one’s leading the way.