CLEVELAND (AP) — Texas prospect Sam Huff’s two-run homer in the seventh inning rallied the American League to a 2-2 tie with the National League on Sunday night — and provided the first glimpse of an All-Star tiebreaker — in the Futures Game.
This year’s format was changed with the game shortened from nine to seven innings, and Huff’s homer off Colorado’s Ben Bowden forced the game into the eighth — this time, extras — and earned him MVP honors.
Both teams began their at-bats with a runner at second base in the eighth, but neither could push a run across, and the 21st game featuring baseball’s up-and-coming stars ended with a thud.
The tiebreaker could come into play in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Beyond the other adjustments, the biggest difference in this year’s game was the lack of scoring. Last year, the U.S. won 10-6 as Reds prospect Taylor Trammell homered and tripled.
Down to their final two outs, and blanked over six innings, the AL tied it in the seventh on Huff’s shot onto the patio in left.
The 21-year-old connected on a pitch from Bowden, who is 20 for 20 in save opportunities in Double-A and Triple-A this season.
Trammell hit an RBI single — and probably should have been credited for stealing home — and was probably in line to win his second straight MVP honors before the AL rallied.
The NL finally broke through with its firest hit in the fourth.
Trammell dropped a bloop RBI single off Matt Manning, a Detroit prospect, and Dylan Carlson had a two-out, run-scoring hit off Kris Bubic, a lefty in Kansas City’s system.
A former high school football star, Trammell nearly made it 3-0 with a straight steal of home. Bubic didn’t see him barreling down the line until the last moment, but threw in time to nip Trammel, who dived head first and was called out by umpire Jose Navas.
TV replays appeared to show Trammell slipped his hand under catcher Jake Rogers’ tag, and under normal circumstances the play would have likely been reviewed and overturned.
The early innings were dominated by strong pitching from both sides with high-kicking San Diego prospect MacKenzie Gore, the No. 3 overall pick in 2017, among one of several players to shine.
For many of the minor leaguers, the Futures Game provided their first experience at being inside a major league clubhouse. Some seemed awed at sharing the same cubicles and spaces as players they’ve grown up admiring.
“I think you’re always going to be a little bit nervous for something like this,” said Indians infield prospect Nolan Jones, hoping to one day work his way up from the Class A Lynchburg Hillcats to Cleveland. “I mean, this is what you dream about.”
ON THE RADAR
Toronto minor leaguer Nate Pearson brought the heat on a cool evening.
He threw four pitches over 101 mph during a perfect fifth, topping out at 101.7 against Dodgers’ Double-A shortstop Gavin Lux.
NOT ONCE, TWICE
Pirates’ Triple-A first baseman Will Craig was hit by pitches in both plate appearances. He did not react after being plunked by Mariners right-hander Justin Dunn in the second, but he angrily flung his bat after being struck in the fourth by Manning.
Baltimore pitching prospect DL Hall was hit in the lower left leg by Miguel Amaya’s shattered bat in the third inning. Hall couldn’t avoid being struck, but after being checked by a trainer, the right-hander stayed in and finished the inning.
Indians prospect Daniel Johnson looked like he was on the way to the gym for a workout, choosing to display his muscular arms by not wearing a shirt under his sleeveless jersey.
Tampa Bay teenage sensation Wander Franco went 1 for 2 and was caught stealing. The 18-year-old shortstop was the game’s youngest player.
Yankees right-hander Deivi Garcia started with a scoreless inning for the AL shortly after New York announced he would be promoted from Double-A to Triple-A. Garcia pitched in a combined no-hitter and had a 15-strikeout game in the past month.
Former Indians slugger Travis Hafner cleared the portable outfield fence — and the permanent one — with a homer during the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game. Hafner’s shot down the right field line was the top highlight for the Cleveland team, which lost 21-16 to The World.
Ex-Yankees star Bernie Williams homered for the winners.
Cavaliers forward J.R. Smith stripped off his jersey for his first at-bat in the softball game, triggering memories of his bare-bodied appearance during the NBA championship parade in 2016.