U.S. Rallies To Win Futures Game


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PHOENIX—Grant Green said he felt a lot more comfortable at this year’s Futures Game after playing in last year’s prospect all-star matchup. And it showed.

The Athletics second baseman drilled two doubles in two-bats, sparking the game-winning rally with the second. The United States plated three runs in the bottom of the eighth to win its second straight Futures Game, 6-4 on Sunday afternoon at Chase Field. The victory gave the United States a 7-6 edge over the World in the 13-year history of the contest.

Green entered the game in the fifth inning, delivering a pinch-RBI double off a 93-mph fastball from Rangers lefthander Martin Perez to put the United States ahead 3-0. That lead had disappeared by the time Green led off the eighth against Royals righthander Kelvin Herrera, as the World had scored four runs in the sixth. Herrera delivered one 94-96 mph fastball after another, and Green drilled the seventh off the top of the batting eye in center field 407 feet from home plate.

Rays shortstop Tim Beckham followed with a game-tying double before Herrera rallied to get two outs. Yankees catcher Austin Romine then snapped the tie with a line-drive single to left and scored an insurance run on a double by Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Green made his Futures Game debut last year in Anaheim, about 15 minutes from where he grew up. He admitted to being nervous in front of several family members and friends, though he did have an RBI single in two at-bats. He said he was more at ease the second time around, adding that facing two pitchers he had seen in the Double-A Texas League also helped.

Sixteen of Green’s U.S. teammates from last year’s Futures Game already have appeared in the majors. If he couldn’t join them there, he said winning MVP honors at in Phoenix was the next-best thing.

“I hope this is my last time here,” Green said with a chuckle, “but it was a lot of fun. I thought that second double was out of here. After I got to second base, the people in the stands were getting on me and telling me I need to hit the weight room.”

The U.S. comeback took the spotlight away from a stunning rally by the World. With two out in the sixth, Dodgers right fielder Alfredo Silverio finally put the World on the board with a two-run homer off a 93-mph fastball from Indians lefthander Drew Pomeranz.

Red Sox left fielder Chih-Hsien Chiang walked and Phillies catcher Sebastian Valle doubled to tie the game and chase Pomeranz. Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar showed off his pop and speed with a triple off Twins righthander Kyle Gibson, giving the World its first lead.

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis opened the scoring when he led off the bottom of the first by turning off a 95-mph fastball from Braves righthander Julio Teheran, drilling it over the right-field fence. Kipnis, who starred at nearby Arizona State, was serenaded with chants of “ASU! ASU!” as he circled the bases.

“Going into the game, I was just thinking, ‘Don’t strike out,’ ” Kipnis said. “To have that kind of at-bat versus that kind of pitcher, I couldn’t be happier. It’s hard to describe. It’s a dream come true.”

With the exception of the World’s sixth-inning outburst, U.S. pitchers were dominant. They allowed just four hits and no more runs in the other eight frames, with Rays lefthander Matt Moore and Phillies righthander Jarred Cosart shining the brightest.

Moore pitched a perfect fourth inning, working from 94-98 mph with his fastball and though he didn’t stay on top of his curveball, it morphed into an 86-87 mph slider. Cosart earned the victory with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, pitching at 96-97 and registering a strikeout each with his curveball and changeup.

“I’ve never felt a rush like that,” said Cosart, who was selected to the 2010 Futures Game but had to watch it from Dr. James Andrews’ office in Birmingham after tweaking his elbow. “I figured I’d try to get ahead with my fastball and I wanted to show off my other pitches a little bit.”

Several World pitchers stood out as well. Teheran threw a 94-96 mph fastball and backed it up with a hard curveball, while fellow Braves righthander Arodys Vizcaino showed similar stuff during a 1-2-3 seventh. Mariners lefthander James Paxton needed just six 93-96 mph fastballs to get through a perfect third inning, and Cardinals righthander Carlos Martinez followed in the fourth by matching Moore with the game’s top velocity at 98 mph.

“Did any kid throw under 94, 95 out there?” asked former Diamondbacks World Series hero Luis Gonzalez, who managed the World Team. “There’s a lot of great young pitchers out there on the horizon.”

No Futures Gamer drew more attention than Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper, who went 0-for-4. The No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft and the consensus top prospect in baseball, he struck out against Teheran and Herrera and grounded out to first base against Paxton and Perez. Harper’s lone highlight came when he threw a ball 330 feet in the air from the warning track to the plate trying to get Chiang on Valle’s double.

Minors | #2011 #Futures Game

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