NEW YORK — One by one they came out of the bullpen, hard throwers on a mission to shut down many of baseball’s top hitters.
Detroit’s Max Scherzer. Chris Sale of the White Sox. Felix Hernandez of the Mariners and Matt Moore of the Rays.
Heat and more heat.
Even with its own standouts such as the Mets’ Matt Harvey and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, the National League couldn’t match up. The American League’s 3-0 victory at Citi Field on Tuesday night was an arms showcase.
“We all came tonight and we brought it,” Scherzer said. “You got guys who just can absolutely light up a radar gun, but not only that, throw multiple off-speed pitches for strikes.”
It was the third All-Star shutout for the AL, following 1946 at Fenway Park and 1990 at Wrigley Field.
“That’s a good lineup we threw out there, a lot of great hitters,” NL manager Bruce Bochy said. “They shut us down.”
Scherzer, throwing up to 99 mph, pitched a 1-2-3 first inning. Sale followed with a pair of perfect innings, reaching 96 mph.
Six up. Six down.
Against baseball’s best.
“I don’t think I’ve been a part of a baseball experience like that in my entire life,” Sale said.
The rest weren’t shabby either, with Kansas City’s Greg Holland topping out at 97 and Oakland’s Grant Balfour at 95. Moore, former Mariner and current Blue Jay Steve Delabar and Texas’ Joe Nathan all reached 94, Toronto’s Brett Cecil 93 and Hernandez 92, throwing sinkers on nine of 13 pitches.
Mariano Rivera of the Yankees threw 16 pitches, all cutters ranging from 89-91 mph, in a perfect eighth remembered for his introduction, when the other All-Stars left him alone on the field for a 11/2 minute ovation.
The NL managed three hits and one walk. And these weren’t just any batters, but All-Star sluggers.
“It’s not fun,” said third baseman David Wright of the host Mets. “You think of the broad spectrum of being an All-Star and it gets you excited. And then when you get down to the nitty-gritty and you look in there and you’ve got to face those pitchers, it’s like, ‘OK, maybe this isn’t as fun as I thought it was going to be.’ Every guy comes in throwing high 90s with good secondary pitches. And this is difficult.”
A one-out single by St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran to left-center in the fourth against Hernandez gave the NL its first base runner, and pinch-runner Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates was stranded on third base when Wright grounded out.
Hernandez isn’t used to warming up in the middle of a game.
“It was pretty weird. I don’t feel that comfortable that way,” he said.