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LOS ANGELES — Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase is a known fireballer, regularly showcasing a 100 mph cutter and boasting a chase rate in Statcast’s 100th percentile. In his first All-Star Game appearance on Tuesday night, he showed it off to the point of putting the Majors on notice.
The 24-year-old right-hander earned the save in the American League’s 3-2 win over the National League, striking out the side with ease to secure the AL’s ninth straight victory in the Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium. Clase caught the Marlins’ Garrett Cooper and the Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber looking to start the ninth inning, before ending the contest by punching out the Padres’ Jake Cronenworth on a foul tip.
Most impressive of all, Clase threw only 10 pitches to do it. One ball. Nine strikes.
“My mindset was very clear: I didn’t want them to even touch the ball,” Clase said through Guardians interpreter Agustin Rivero. “That was my goal, that’s what I prepared, and that’s what my mindset was. … It’s just always about being able to execute it and trust in my [stuff]. When I’m trusting myself, I get the results.”
Clase became just the sixth pitcher to earn a save and record three or more strikeouts in an All-Star Game appearance, joining Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman (2019) as the only hurlers to do so in just one inning. Clase’s electric outing topped off a strong showing from all three Guardians All-Stars.
Second baseman Andr?s Gim?nez, a fellow first-time Midsummer Classic participant, began the game with arguably the best piece of fielding of the night. In the bottom of the first, with two men already on base against AL starter Shane McClanahan, Gim?nez knocked the wind out of the NL’s sails, corralling a ball that caromed high off the mound and making a slick behind-the-back flip to Tim Anderson to start a double play.
Though Anderson’s relay throw pulled Vladimir Guerrero Jr. off first base, Guerrero was able to reel in the ball and tag Manny Machado out right in front of the base to complete the defensive highlight.
“I’ve seen him doing those types of plays before, so I’m not surprised,” Clase said of Gim?nez. “I know he’s a great player, and that’s what he does — being aggressive. … That’s what he’s always been doing.”
Jos? Ram?rez, in his fourth All-Star Game, kept up that high level of play. After entering the contest at third base in the third inning, Ram?rez led off the fourth with a single to center field. He then came around to score on Midsummer Classic MVP Giancarlo Stanton’s game-tying two-run homer.
Ram?rez added another single in the fifth, making him the only player on either All-Star team to manage a multihit showing. It was the second time that he has had two hits in an All-Star Game, having previously accomplished the feat in 2017, when he became the first Cleveland player to do so since Kenny Lofton in 1996.
“He’s a great player,” Clase said of Ram?rez. “He’s a great hitter, as we know, in the Major Leagues, and I’m not surprised because that’s what he does. He came here to do that, and that is what he did.”
Ram?rez became the fifth player in the Wild Card era (since 1994) with a pair of two-hit All-Star Games.
Still, the Guardians’ most remarkable performance of the night belonged to Clase, the third-year big leaguer from the Dominican Republic. For all those who might have been unaware of him before, he made quite the introduction.
“As a closer, that’s what you want — to come into a game when it’s meaningful and strike out three people like I did,” Clase said. “So I’m really proud of myself and happy with the job that I’ve done — and I’m really happy to get the results.”