CLEVELAND – For one night, the pitchers took back the power.
One day after a spectacular Home Run Derby got everyone buzzing even louder about monster shots and juiced baseballs, only a couple flew out of Progressive Field on Tuesday night.
Instead, Justin Verlander blazed 97 mph heat, Shane Bieber and Aroldis Chapman each struck out the side and the American League slowed a loaded NL lineup 4-3 for its seventh straight victory in the All-Star Game.
Daniel Vogelbach of the Mariners went 0 for 1; the designated hitter flew out to left field to end the sixth inning with the American League leading 2-1.
“I know it’s the year of the home run, but pitching dominated today,” Colorado slugger Nolan Arenado said.
Sure did — at least until play resumes Thursday.
Facing Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger and a bunch of boppers, the AL staff combined to strike out 16.
With many fans hoping to see a replay of Monday’s jaw-dropping aerial show when 312 homers cleared the walls, this became the Arm-Star Game up until the late innings.
Home Run Derby champ Pete Alonso of the New York Mets grounded a two-out, two-run single past second baseman Gleyber Torres in the eighth to close the NL’s gap.
After a double steal put runners at second and third against Cleveland reliever Brad Hand, Chicago White Sox catcher James McCann made a tumbling catch on Mike Moustakas’ twisting foul pop to end the threat.
Chapman closed to give the American League its 19th victory in 22 games, with a tie stuck in there. He got a little encouragement with two outs — Yankees teammate CC Sabathia, honored this week for his contributions on and off the field, strolled to the mound to talk to the flamethrower.
Chapman then struck out Milwaukee’s Yasmani Grandal for a save, giving the AL an overall 45-43-2 lead in the Midsummer Classic.
No need, either, for the experimental rule that was set to go effect: If the game went into extra innings, each team would have started the 10th with an automatic runner on second base.
Major League Baseball is on a record-shattering pace for homers this season, but no one came close to clearing the walls until Charlie Blackmon of Colorado connected in the NL sixth to make the score 2-1 in favor of the AL.
Texas’ Joey Gallo countered with a solo drive in a two-run seventh.
It was a far cry from last year’s All-Star Game that featured a record 10 home runs.
Cleveland favorite Michael Brantley, a former Indians player now with the Houston Astros, had an early RBI double off losing pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jorge Polanco of the Minnesota Twins drove in a run with an infield single for a 2-0 edge in the fifth.
“I wanted to swing the bat early. I had some nervous jitters I wanted to get out,” Brantley said.
Winning pitcher Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees, Lucas Giolito of the White Sox and Shane Greene of the Detroit Tigers did their parts to protect the lead with scoreless innings.
“I kind of expected it, to be honest,” Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant said. “You only see them once, so they have the advantage.
“There are a lot of hard throwers and great pitchers over there. Unless you’ve seen them before, it’s a difficult matchup.”
Bieber earned the MVP award in front of a chanting home crowd, striking out Willson Contreras, Ketel Marte and Ronald Acuna Jr. in the fifth with a 1-0 lead.
“It was electric out there, the fans got in it and it was fun,” AL manager Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox said. “And I’m glad that he got the MVP. He plays at this level. He’s really good.”
The biggest misplay of the night might have been on the scoreboard.
NL All-Stars David Dahl of Colorado and Willson Contreras of the Cubs had their names misspelled — “Davis Dahl” and “Wilson Contreras” — on the outfield videoboard. Jeff McNeil was spelled correctly, but the accompanying photo was of Mets teammate Jacob deGrom.
“That was tough, to see deGrom’s picture up there,” McNeil said. “I didn’t really like that. I wanted to see my picture up there. I know my family did, too. What are you going to do, I guess, but I don’t think that should happen.”
Fittingly, the first batter of the game was the guy who leads the majors in home runs — Yelich, the NL MVP with 31 homers at the break, hit leadoff for the first time this year.
Yelich lined out and Houston ace Verlander fanned Javier Baez and Freddie Freeman to finish his work.
Those lively baseballs that Verlander has been complaining about? Didn’t bother him a bit.
Baez came up again in the third with a red bat and playfully waved to pal Francisco Lindor in the AL dugout.
NL starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, deGrom and Luis Castillo threw scoreless innings to keep the NL close early.
Pittsburgh dynamo Josh Bell was part of the youngest starting lineup in All-Star history, with the NL crew averaging under 26.
Overall, there were 36 first-timers, a number boosted by the absence of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Jose Altuve and several past perennials. And consider this: Of the 16 AL pitchers on the 2017 All-Star roster, zero made the roster this year.
All players wore a uniform patch with No. 45 to honor late Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Angels teammates Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella switched their jerseys to Skaggs’ number, and there was a pregame moment of silence.
“I felt him out there with me,” Trout said. “To be able to represent him and what he meant to us on a stage like this is special.”