The 2021 edition of the All-Star Game was plenty of fun. Monster home runs, great pitching, and plenty of mic'd up fun defined the annual Mid-Summer Classic. In this year's edition, the American League captured the victory by a 5-2 final. This game represents the eighth-straight win for the AL in the All-Star Game.
Now, all teams focus their attention to the second half of the season. Teams are starting to define their destiny in the 2021 campaign, either separating themselves from the pack in search of a championship, or looking ahead to next season. Either way, the next major event is the trade deadline at the end of July. Teams now focus their attention to becoming buyers or sellers, and the road to October starts now.
The Chicago Cubs had two representatives at the 2021 All-Star Game. Kris Bryant made his fourth career appearance in the event and Craig Kimbrel made his eight respective appearance. Although Kris Bryant lost his early starting lead at third base to Arenado in the fan voting, both players checked in at different times and saw the field in the National League loss.
Kris Bryant checked into the game to start the sixth inning in favor of Cincinnati Reds outfielder and starter Jesse Winker. Winker and former Cub Nicholas Castellanos were both starters for the National League.
In Kris Bryant's first at-bat, he stepped up with the bases loaded and the National League trailing by four runs. After falling behind quickly 0-2, a pass ball scored a run for the National League as Manny Machado crossed home plate. However, Bryant struck out on the next pitch. A high, inside fastball made KB's first at-bat a downer.
In the 7th inning, Bryant was mic'd up with Joe Buck and John Smoltz on the Fox broadcast. KB was asked about the state of the Cubs, the impending deadline, and how he stays focused. He answered by stating that all the moving around and playing multiple positions was what helped. He also added he was still wearing the Cubs emblem and was happy to be in Chicago.
On the red carpet, Kris mentioned that if he had to play one position for the next five or more years, it would be centerfield. Cubs fans might joke about the Cubs' need in center since Dexter Fowler left and how KB should fill it. Whether a serious possibility or not, it provided a fun sound bite from the break.
Bryant once again mentioned his love for centerfield when asked about how he plays angles at all the different positions. Perhaps it's his pitch to the Cubs front office to keep him around and let him play centerfield everyday since they need a long term answer there. One can dream.
Bryant had a second at-bat and it was with the bases loaded, again. Unfortunately, after solid contact on a 3-0 pitch, Bryant was robbed by Jared Walsh, who was playing left field instead of first. The play ended the inning and left the National League down three runs.
Craig Kimbrel checked in at the start of the ninth inning with the National League down 5-2. Kimbrel's first batter faced nearly left the yard, but Chris Taylor made a nice catch on the warning track. Following that, after an Adolis Garcia double, Kimbrel got Nelson Cruz to ground out before being removed from the game.
Craig didn't look sharp, but his trade value will undoubtedly be high after his incredible first half and the multiple reports about his value on the trade market.
The Cubs return to the field on Friday, July 16 in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. First pitch is scheduled for 8:40 PM CDT.