MIDSUMMER CLASSIC

Former Astros great reflects on his first All-Star Game

Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images.

As everyone knows by now, the MLB All-Star Game has been canceled. It was to be the first Mid-Summer Classic to take place at Dodger Stadium since 1980. The L.A. based Fox production crew was certain to relish the opportunity to produce the action, merely cutting over unto the 110 freeway nearby. The storylines were to be rich, especially with our Astros returning to fertile ground where they claimed the 2017 World Series crown. The reaction from the capacity crowd was sure to be a storyline when members of H-Town appeared between the lines. We'll now have to wait to see the Dodger Stadium backdrop on September 12th & 13th, during a brief two-game series during the Astros upcoming regular season.

On Tuesday, I had an opportunity to speak to former pitcher, manager & broadcaster, Larry Dierker. We started going down memory lane with past All-Star Games in the air. His first ASG appearance occurred a mere three days after Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon.

SportsMap: What do you remember about your first All-Star Game?

Larry Dierker: That day (July 23rd, 1969) we got to visit the White House and meet Richard Nixon. He knew a lot about the game. He even knew the standings, the starting lineups, and all about the individual players.

SM: What was the atmosphere like inside R.F.K. Stadium?

LD: Well, prior to the game, Willie Mays hit 10-straight homers in a row during batting practice. The standing ovation went for over 5 minutes. By the time (Steve) Carlton took the mound for us, it had already been a special night.

SM: What about the actual game? What stood out for you?

LD: I came in during the 8th inning. I gave up a jam shot single to Boog Powell and then retired Reggie Smith on a pop up. We had the contest in hand, and then we won 9-3.


In all probability, the Dodgers will capture the 2022 ASG bid. No harm, no foul. And for the baseball enthusiast longing for MLB contests, the countdown is on!

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With the disappointing loss in extra innings late the night before, the Astros returned to RingCentral Coliseum on Saturday afternoon to try and even the series against the A's, who now owned a 3.5 game lead in the AL West over Houston. Here is a quick rundown of the middle game of the series:

Final Score: A's 3, Astros 1.

Record: 6-8, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Frankie Montas (2-1, 1.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (0-2, 2.04 ERA).

Valdez does his job

Framber Valdez ran into stress early on Saturday, facing trouble in the bottom of the first inning. It started with a leadoff solo home run, putting Oakland up 1-0 before they would record an out. He later allowed back-to-back one-out singles to rack up his pitch count in the frame but would limit the damage to the single run.

He was able to re-focus and settle in during the following innings, getting quick, scoreless innings in the next four. In the bottom of the sixth, a leadoff groundball that likely should have been the first out was instead a single that would come back to bite Houston. That runner stole second and advanced to third on a bad throw, then scored on an RBI-groundout, doubling Oakland's lead to 2-0. Valdez would go one more inning, giving Houston precisely what they needed by helping give their exhausted bullpen a break. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR.

Houston's offense unable to get anything going

Unfortunately for Houston, Frankie Montas was even more efficient on the other side. Houston was only able to notch two hits against him over seven innings while Montas only had to throw 86 pitches over that span. Oakland would go to their bullpen in the top of the eighth, with the Astros getting just a single in the inning.

Nivaldo Rodriguez would take over for Valdez in the bottom of the eighth and allowed a solo home run to make it 3-0 before completing the inning. Houston would get a leadoff double by Kyle Tucker to start the top of the ninth, and he would come around to score on an RBI-single by Alex Bregman. That's as close as Houston would get, though, as Oakland would finish off the win to secure the series and extend Houston's losing streak to four games.

Up Next: The final game of this series and Houston's nine-game road trip will be on Sunday at 3:10 PM Central. Jesus Luzardo (0-0, 2.31 ERA) will make a start for the A's while Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.42 ERA) will look to continue his success in 2020 for the Astros.

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