They were going to remember Terry Steinbach, anyway, if only because he was hitting 20 points lower than any other all-star and because he'd spent two days answering a lot of questions that sounded like this: Aren't you ashamed to be here?
Even Steinbach admitted that ballot-stuffing in Oakland got him to Riverfront Stadium Tuesday night, but once here, he proved that heroes don't necessarily all look alike.Steinbach drove in both American League runs with a home run and a bases-loaded sacrifice fly Tuesday night and won the most valuable player award to give the junior circuit a 2-1 victory in the 59th All-Star Game.
Steinbach, who entered the game hitting .217, homered off National League starter Dwight Gooden in the third inning, then slapped a fly to deep left off Bob Knepper to score Dave Winfield from third in the fourth inning.
He became only the eighth player to homer in his first all-star at-bat. He also homered in his first at-bat in the major leagues - Sept. 12, 1986.
His heroics Tuesday night came in front of 55,837 and a national television audience and gave the American Leaguers their third victory in the last six years. Overall, however, they trail in the series, 37-21, and have lost 22 of the last 26.
Steinbach had one of the six hits the American Leaguers got off eight National League pitchers, but it was enough as eight American Leaguers combined on a five-hitter.
The only National League run scored in the fourth, and it was set up by a Vince Coleman single and stolen base and a throwing error by Steinbach.
"The guys were teasing me," Steinbach said. "They're already saying I'm an answer to a trivia question. I just came here to do my best. The fans voted me in. I didn't expect to hit a home run, but I wanted to show what I could do. I've never doubted my hitting. I'm not happy with the numbers I've put up going into the All-Star Game. But I expect to turn it around in the second half. I have to get my confidence and turn it around in the second half."
American League Manager Tom Kelly used Frank Viola, Roger Clemens, Mark Gubicza, Dave Stieb, Jeff Russell, Doug Jones and Dan Plesac for the first eight innings, then sent in Dennis Eckersley in the ninth for the save.
It was a short night for the AL's two best pitchers. Viola threw two perfect innings before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the third. He was followed by Clemens, who pitched an inning before being lifted in favor of a pinch-hitter in the fourth.
Both accepted the decisions, Viola saying, "It seemed like it was over before it started. Tom Kelly and I talked before the game, and he said that since there were so many pitchers (10), I would only go a couple. It wasn't fair to go any further. He wanted to get everybody in there."
Clemens was at his blazing best, with one pitch clocked at 98 mph. He, too, accepted the quick hook, saying, "I felt my velocity was 80-90 percent better than yesterday, and that was my day to throw. The adrenaline flowing for an All-Star Game is just like a playoff or World Series game. That's the kind of day's work I like. I only threw about 15 pitches."
Gooden struggled through his three innings, allowing a walk and three hits, but the only one that hurt him was by Steinbach.
"I felt great," Gooden said. "It was good to be out there after missing last season. I thought I was throwing well and I was happy with my stuff. Aside from giving up the home run, I wish I could have gotten the chance to hit myself. That would be my ultimate thrill."
He got out of the first inning by getting Paul Molitor to ground into a double play, after walking Rickey Henderson to lead off the game. Wade Boggs followed Molitor's double play with a single to left, but Jose Canseco flied to right to end the inning.
Gooden retired the side in the second, but Steinbach led off the third by hitting an 0-1 pitch over the right-field wall. It barely cleared, landing on the back of the fence and tipping Darryl Strawberry's glove when it bounced back up.
"I was ahead of him on the count and tried to get the ball away," Gooden said, "but it wasn't away enough. I thought it was a good pitch, a popup when he hit it, but it just carried." Henderson singled with one out, but Molitor forced him at second. Gooden was called for balk, but Boggs lined out to second baseman Ryne Sandberg to end the inning.
The American Leaguers went up, 2-0, in the fourth when Dave Winfield doubled off Bob Knepper with one out. Cal Ripken drew a walk and Mark McGwire's single to shallow left loaded the bases. Steinbach again did the job, lifting a sacrifice fly to deep left to score Winfield.
Kelly went for the clincher right there, sending up Johnny Ray to hit for Clemens.
But Ray flied to left, and the National Leaguers broke up the shutout in their half of the fourth. It didn't take long, either. Vince Coleman singled to become the first National League baserunner.
Sandberg struck out, but with a 1-2 count on Andre Dawson, Coleman stole second and went to third on Steinbach's throwing error. He raced home on a Gubicza wild pitch to make it 2-1.
Gubicza got out of the inning, but it wasn't easy. Dawson and Strawberry beat out infield singles, but Bobby Bonilla flied to right and Will Clark grounded out to end it.
"A couple of inches either way, and it could have been a real productive night," Clark said. "I was just glad to be part of everything."
Bonilla's out was the first of six in a row for the National Leaguers as Gubicza and Dave Stieb were nearly overpowering.
Meanwhile, the National League pitching also got better. Dave Cone of the Mets pitched a perfect fifth and Kevin Gross of the Phillies did the same in the sixth.
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