Last year Corey Kluber was the winning pitcher in the last All-Star Game to decide home-field advantage in the World Series. Tuesday night Andrew Miller came out of the bullpen and pitched a scoreless 10th inning to earn the save in the AL's 2-1 victory at Marlins Park.
Miller, in becoming the fifth Tribe pitcher to earn an All-Star Game save, got some revenge as well. The last batter he struck out was Dodger rookie Cody Bellinger.
On June 13, Bellinger sent Miller into a mini tailspin when he homered off him in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie. The next night Miller allowed another tiebreaking homer, this time to Kiki Hernandez, and Bellinger added to his second loss in as many games with a walk.
"He had two really good at-bats in that series against us at our place," said Miller. "Obviously, he's one of the bright hitters of this year.
"No matter who you face in these situations it's a big spot. Obviously having a little history kind of had that 'this is meant to be moment. I'm going to get a chance to face him once again.' It was fun. "
Miller joins Mel Harder (1935 and 1937), Hall of Famer Bob Feller (1939), Cal McLish (1959) and Doug Jones (1989) as Indians who have saved an All-Star Game.
Teammate Michael Brantley was playing left field when Miller first started warming in the ninth when the National League threatened Boston closer Craig Kimbrel.
"I saw him warming up in the ninth and then Kimbrel got out of it," said Brantley. "Then it's, 'Here he comes for the 10th.'
"I was excited. I've watched him do it all year long. He's a great pitcher and it showed out there again tonight."
Miller needed some help to get the save. Corey Seager started the inning with a liner to right. Detroit's Justin Upton made a sprawling catch. Shortstop Francisco Lindor, another Miller teammate, made a nice play on Ender Inciarte's grounder for the second out. Miller, taking no chances in a one-run game, pitched around Cincinnati's Joey Votto to set-up the lefty vs. lefty matchup with Bellinger.
"They laid off some pretty good sliders earlier in the inning," said Miller. "To finally get one of them to swing at one and get me a little more confidence going into the second half ... Just a blast. I think he's as deserving as anyone as an All-Star this year. To get a chance to face him was fun."
Bellinger joined the Dodgers in late April and went into the All-Star break hitting .261 (67-for-257) with 25 homers and 58 RBI.
The Indians sent five players to the All-Star Game and their entire coaching staff -- minus Terry Francona who stayed in Cleveland follow a heart procedure on Thursday. Jose Ramirez started at third base and went 2-for-2 with a stolen base. He was out of the game by the 10th inning, but when Miller entered he had a good feeling.
"I always feel completely confident when Miller is on the mound," said Ramirez."It was Miller Time."
With the game no longer determining home-field advantage for the World Series, there was one light moment when Seattle's Nelson Cruz came to the plate, pulled out a cell phone and asked St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina to take a picture of him and plate umpire Joe West. But there didn't seem to be anything lighthearted about the 10th inning for Miller.
"It's a blast," said Miller. "You don't ever take it for granted. I get to take part in this with my teammates and see familiar faces.
"It's just a lot of fun. It's first class. It's hectic. I'm still sweating as you can see. What an experience. It's something I'll never forget and I'm glad it worked out the way it did. I'm glad I got in there in that situation and found a way."
(c)2017 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland
Visit Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland at www.cleveland.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.