CLEVELAND — The collective eyes of the baseball world have been trained on Cleveland, Ohio, for the past couple of days. Players started arriving in town Sunday night after wrapping the first half of their seasons. From there, it’s been a nonstop stream of media responsibilities, mingling with teammates, workouts and other festivities.
While the rest of the baseball world jets away, the Twins will remain in Cleveland and finally find time to relax before taking on the Indians this weekend. Jose Berrios will try to catch up on sleep after getting a combined eight hours on Sunday and Monday nights. Jake Odorizzi will take his two young sons to the zoo.
The hectic All-Star Game activities culminated Tuesday night, July 9, at Progressive Field, where the American League hung on for a 4-3 win over the National League, winning their seventh straight game.
Jorge Polanco, who started the game at shortstop, struck out on a Clayton Kershaw curveball in his first at-bat and drove in a run on an infield single in his second at-bat. Berrios threw a scoreless third inning, pitching over a leadoff double to Ketel Marte by striking out Ronald Acuna Jr. and Christian Yelich before getting his brother-in-law, Javy Baez, to swing at the first pitch and fly out.
“The expectations going into it, I had no idea what to expect and so there’s going to be a lot of this (media) type of stuff, but until you’re actually here and experiencing it, it’s still kind of surreal to me everything that’s going on,” said Odorizzi, a first-time all-star. “The coverage of all this, the parade ride today, was something else. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Odorizzi had 11 family members in attendance for the game — which he didn’t pitch in after landing on the injured list this month with a blister on his middle finger.
Still, though he didn’t participate in the game, he was able to soak in everything else. Among other things, he enjoyed Monday night’s Home Run Derby on the field with his oldest son, Rhett, who is 3 1/2.
“It’s kind of a proud dad type of moment,” Odorizzi said. “It’s something he’s never going to forget. … He’s at the point now where it’s special to be able to look back and remember all these memories and talk to him about.”
Polanco also brought his oldest son, Jorge Jr., on the field with him Monday night and enjoyed the dazzling display 20-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. put on in his runner-up performance.
Polanco, also a first-time all-star, started the game after winning the fan vote at shortstop and shared the occasion with 17 family members.
“I’ve had fun,” he said. “Everything I could possibly imagine has happened.”
Including an RBI hit off Dodgers starter Walker Buehler in the fifth inning.
“It was awesome. I feel really good about it,” Polanco said. “I faced a really good guy and I made contact with him.”
And it was a productive night for Berrios, too, who along with Baez had 28 family members in Cleveland. The family needed five Ubers to travel from the hotel to the restaurant for dinner Monday night. Once they got there, they had to split their group into six tables.
“I think that they are proud (of) us. Good things are happening in our lives, so we wanted to give that happiness too, these two or three days so they are here with us,” Berrios said. “We enjoy. We talk and say ‘Hey, we’ve got a lot of people.’ I know it’s exhausting for us, too many things to do, but finally today we enjoy.”
It was the second straight year that the two have faced each other in the Midsummer Classic and the second time Berrios has gotten Baez to pop out. Before the game, Berrios looked at the lineup and knew he would need at least two baserunners to reach if it was going to happen. One of those was Marte.
“Berrios looked at Marte and said, ‘Thank you,” for getting a double so he could face Javy Baez,” Polanco said. “He was happy to face him.”
Though they both grew up in the same city in Puerto Rico, they hadn’t faced each other until last year. They made eye contact before the at-bat and then Baez swung at the first pitch. Baez said he told Berrios to take it easy on him because he had already struck out once. No such luck.
“It’s a great moment for me, for himself, my family, his family, we are all together here,” Berrios said. “I think that (what) happened out there, that’s what we wanted tonight.”
After so after, a job well done, he can now catch up on some lost sleep.