The Blue Jays are loaded with sons of former big-league stars. Nolan Arenado gets huge hand from Coors Field crowd. German Marquez pitches scoreless inning.
DENVER — Father-son duos may still be unique in Major League Baseball but the concept is considered a fertile crop of talent among Toronto Blue Jays.
There is Dante Bichette’s son Bo, an All-Star shortstop. Vladimir Guerrero’s son, Vlad Jr., is an All-Star and perhaps baseball’s best all-around hitter. Craig Biggio’s son Cavan is the Blue Jays’ starting third baseman. Left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s dad was a legendary ballplayer in Cuba.
>Video above: Catching up with former Rockies outfielder Dante Bichette
“It’s why we have one of the youngest offenses in baseball but it’s also one of the more mature offenses,’’ said Dante Bichette, who serves as a special assistant hitting coach in the Blue Jays organization.
Take Guerrero Jr., son of the former hitting great for the Expos and Angels. Guerrero was able to both belt a 468-foot homer to open the scoring Tuesday, then came through with a two-strike, RBI groundball that helped the American League to a 5-2 win against the National League in the Major League Baseball Game played Tuesday night at Coors Field.
Guerrero became the youngest player at 22 years, 119 days to be named the All Star MVP. He and his dad Vladimir Sr. have both hit All Star homers, a father-son feat matched only by Bobby and Barry Bonds and Ken Sr. and Ken Jr. Griffey.
“My dad means the world to me and I do want to thank my dad,” Guerrero said through an interperter. “My dad, this is for you,”
The American League won its 8th consecutive All-Star Game and is 20-3-1 since 1997. Besides Guerrero Jr., homers were hit by Tampa Bay’s Mike Zunino and Philadelphia’s J.T. Realmuto.
On a warm, muggy, smoky evening at the downtown ballpark, Major League Baseball put on a nice pregame show for the appreciative, sold out Colorado ball crowd. The introductions delivered a standing, roaring ovation for Nolan Arenado, a longtime Rockies’ third baseman who now plays for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Arenado was warmly received upon his return with the Cards in a regular-season game two weeks ago, but it was a much larger Coors gathering this time, which meant a far more boisterous, emotional cheer.
“I wasn’t nervous about it this time, I was when I came two weeks ago,” Arenado said about the crowd’s reaction. “This time I was just going to enjoy the All Star Game. I knew it was in Denver and I knew I played a lot here but, yeah, that ovation when I was running to the line was amazing. It’s probably the best thing that’s happened to me in a while.”
Bo Bichette, son of original Rockie and popular Blake Street Bomber Dante, received perhaps the second loudest ovation.
Then came a touching tribute to Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, one of baseball’s greatest home run hitters who died two weeks shy of his 87th birthday earlier this year. To great applause, his widow Billye was escorted out to home plate by Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Yankee slugger Aaron Judge.
Former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning then showed while delivering the ceremonial first pitch that he’s a better passer than pitcher. He took a full windup from the rubber on top of the mound, then ditched a fastball 5 feet in front of the plate. Rockies All Star pitcher German Marquez, playing catcher, made a nice stop.
Aaron once broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record and Shohei Ohtani did a half-decent impression of the younger Babe as he led off the game at the plate, grounding out to second, then pitched a scoreless first inning for the American League. In his dual against Arenado, Ohtani twice hit 100 mph with fastballs before inducing Arenado to bounce out. Staying in the game as a designated hitter, Ohtani grounded out in his second at-bat.
The next man up, Guerrero Jr., hammered a hanging Corbin Burnes slider deep into the left-field bleachers to put the American League up 2-0 in the third inning.
“Pretty much middle-middle,’’ Burnes said.
Burnes also gave up a run in the second inning.
“That was fun,’’ said Burnes, a Brewers’ starting pitcher who has 128 strikeouts against just 15 walks during the season. “When you hang a slider you know it’s going to get hit hard. But went out there had fun, got to pitch in a big part of the game so that was cool.’’
Burnes pitched two innings, but NL manager Dave Roberts should have saved the extra inning of work for Marquez, who retired the side in the fourth inning. Marquez capped his stint by throwing a fastball over Salvador Perez’ head, then striking out the Royals catcher.
“No, it wasn’t on purpose, it just got away from me,” Marquez said of his wild, setup fastball through an interpreter.
Perez laughed and said something to Marquez after the strikeout.
“He said to throw it a little more over the plate,” Marquez said.
The Padres’ Mark Melancon, who hails from Golden High School, struck out Bo Bichette to lead off the eighth.
Judge had made the defensive play of the game in the third inning as he raced back to catch a Bryan Reynolds drive to the right-field wall.
That is, it was the defensive play of the game until the bottom of the eighth.
The National League was down three runs but had the bases loaded with two outs and the Cubs’ Kris Bryant at the plate. Bryant drilled a liner to left but the Angels’ Jared Walsh made a sliding grab.
Ohtani got credit for the win while Burnes took the loss. The White Sox’ Liam Hendriks picked up the save.
RELATED: Like father, like son: Bo Bichette to play in All Star Game at Coors Field just like Dante did 23 years ago
RELATED: MLB pays homage to Hank Aaron
RELATED: LoDo business owner reflects on changes in neighborhood since last All-Star Game in Denver
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Sports