WASHINGTON D.C. — Only one member of the Red Sox contingent was still playing at the conclusion of the All-Star Game: not Craig Kimbrel, but Mitch Moreland.
Moreland’s two hits, a pair of singles, and his extended presence on the field from the bottom of the sixth inning through the end of a 10-inning, 8-6 American League win at Nationals Park, were fitting. Moreland is not only the oldest of five Red Sox representatives, at 32 years old, but was also the team’s only first-time All-Star.
What exactly he’ll remember most, Moreland wasn’t sure in the immediate aftermath.
“I don’t know,” he said. “The Derby was fun with my son, which is kind of the big thing I was looking forward to: getting the kids out here and them getting to experience it. You know, it kind of all blurs together, so ask me in a couple days, I might be able to answer it better.”
If the season ended Tuesday night Moreland’s .853 OPS this season would be the highest mark of his nine-year career. He has become, later in his career, an offensive threat of a different caliber. Moreland has said at multiple points that not much has changed over the years for him as a hitter, besides some mechanical tweaks. (The value of experience is a given.)
Moreland was in the hole when George Springer hit the second of two consecutive home runs for the American League to break a tie in the 10th inning. When he took the field in the bottom of the frame as the AL closed out the win, Moreland made sure to pause, briefly, after the infielders threw the ball around while J.A. Happ warmed up to close the game instead of Kimbrel, who was unavailable because he had a heavy workload entering the break.
“It kind of slowed down,” Moreland said. “After I threw the ball to the fans right before the inning started, I just kind of looked around, made sure I tried to take it in a little bit.
“Experiencing all of it, you know the fans out there tonight, it was pretty cool seeing some of the best out there swinging it and throwing it. It was a fun game.
“The opening ceremony was great. With those Medal of Honor recipients, the way they kind of honored that I thought was pretty special, almost bigger than the game. To be a part of that was special.”