Davidson's homer leads U.S. Team in Futures Game
Alcantara, Bogaerts shine, but pitching dominates in World's fourth straight defeat
NEW YORK -- A year after an offensive eruption, this time all the power was on the mound. A string of hard-throwing United States pitchers shut down the World team for a 4-2 win in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field.
The U.S. team rolled out one power arm after another, beginning with hometown hero Noah Syndergaard, with six separate hurlers tossing at least one inning without allowing a hit. World batters drew seven walks, but managed three base hits all afternoon and none after the fourth inning.
"It's a true showcase of talent," said U.S. lefty Jesse Biddle, whose strikeout to end the fourth inning was one of the game's biggest outs. "We have a lot of pitchers with sheer, raw power. Guys that just bring it."
Biddle fanned Double-A Reading teammate Maikel Franco with two on to finish the fourth, stranding two World runners and preventing a potential big inning. In the bottom half of the frame, Matt Davidson hit a two-run homer that put the U.S. team ahead to stay. Davidson was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
The World team's pitchers mostly fared well also, but couldn't match zeros with their U.S. counterparts. They racked up eight strikeouts against one walk, but couldn't manage to keep the U.S. off the board.
"There were a lot of really, really good pitchers today," Biddle said. "We went out there and executed and won a game. It was awesome."
Maybe most damaging for the visiting team's cause was what happened when it did get baserunners. World batters hit into three double plays in the middle innings, short-circuiting one potential rally chance after another.
"These pitchers around here are really good," said U.S. second baseman Kolten Wong. "You've got guys throwing 95-plus [mph] with that angle, that kind of sink, you're bound to get some double-play balls."
It was the fourth straight win for the U.S. Team, following a string of three in a row by the World. The U.S. has won nine of the 15 meetings overall.
The U.S. took an early lead on Christian Yelich's two-out RBI single in the second. That lead held until the fourth, when pitcher Anthony Ranaudo got in trouble. Ranaudo allowed two runs on two hits and two walks, including Arismendy Alcantara's solo homer, before being lifted for Biddle.
"It felt good," Alcantara said. "It was a fastball in. We didn't win the game, but I feel pretty good hitting the homer."
The lead lasted less than an inning, though. Facing Michael Ynoa in the bottom of the fourth, C.J. Cron singled with one out to bring up Davidson. The right-handed-hitting third baseman, a member of the Diamondbacks organization, connected with an 0-1 pitch and hammered it out to left-center.
"You have guys throwing 95-plus and they have good offspeed stuff, so you have to pick one or the other," Davidson said. "I was sitting dead-red fastball. The first one, he got in on me a little bit. Then the next pitch, I'm going to stick with the fastball. He shook a couple of times, so I'm thinking the catcher is trying to throw something offspeed. He hung a changeup and it kind of ran into my barrel."
It was all the U.S. pitching staff needed. Featuring an army of hard throwers, they did not allow the World another hit.
Biddle, who pitched 1 1/3 innings, was credited with the victory, while A.J. Cole picked up a save. Biddle's strikeout of his friend and teammate Franco may well have been the game's turning point. He polished off Franco with a trademark big curveball.
"The first curveball, I know he's coming in," Franco said. "But he [threw] me the second pitch fastball and misses. The last pitch, curveball again. He threw me curveball again too. That's OK. It's OK."
Biddle, Eddie Butler, Jimmy Nelson, C.J. Riefenhauser, Kyle Crick and Cole all pitched shutout, hitless relief over the final innings. Riefenhauser was particularly impressive, getting three outs on six pitches.
Garin Cecchini added an RBI single in the eighth for the U.S. for insurance. Wong singled, stole a base and was part of all three double plays. Yelich and Cron had two hits each for the U.S., while Xander Bogaerts was 2-for-3 for the World.
Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.