COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. – Mallex Smith said his first All-Star experience was teetering on embarrassment.
Being on the wrong side of a no-hitter would have left a terrible memory of the Midwest League All-Star Game. Fortunately for Smith, that was averted, allowing him a different perspective.
Following Tuesday night’s game, a 7-0 Western Division victory before a not-quite-sellout crowd of 7,046 at Fifth Third Ballpark, the TinCaps’ center fielder said the experience had been fun.
You get to be around different guys and see other players, not just your teammates, Smith said.
Smith, who batted ninth, hoped for a bigger impact.
In three plate appearances, he grounded to second against Wisconsin’s Preston Gainey, flied to right against Quad Cities’ Tyler Brunnemann and hit into a fielder’s choice against Peoria’s Chris Perry.
The two other TinCaps All-Stars performed well for the Eastern Division, which lost for only the fourth time in the last 11.
Nick Mutz pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out Chad Hinshaw of Burlington and forcing Chan-Jong Moon of Quad Cities and Luis Baez of Beloit to ground out.
Tyron Guerrero then worked a 1-2-3 ninth.
Mutz attacked the zone and did a good job, Eastern Division manager Andrew Graham said. Guerrero was lighting up the radar gun. They both threw well and showed off their talent.
Guerrero needed only six pitches, all fastballs, to retire the side. He threw five strikes and was at 90 mph or above.
He got Peoria’s Carson Kelly to pop out right on a 98 mph fastball. Bryan Haar of Cedar Rapids grounded to short on another thrown at 98. Guerrero’s final pitch, clocked at 99, was lined to second by Peoria’s Juan Herrera.
I felt really good, Guerrero said. I just let it go. I was doing my job.
The Eastern Division was already behind 7-0 when Mutz came in. He threw six straight fastballs before freezing Hinshaw with an 85 mph slider on the corner.
I was trying to finish him with offspeed, Mutz said. I think it caught him off guard. They hadn’t seen it yet.
South Bend’s Marty Herum had a one-out single in the eighth to end the no-hit bid.
We were very worried, Smith said.
We weren’t going to go out like that.
Smith played the full game but had a quiet night in center. His only putout came on a routine fly in the first.
He hit the first pitch to second in the third, pulled a 90 mph, 2-2 delivery to right leading off the sixth and hit a check-swing roller with two on in the eighth.
First one, I was right on it, Smith said. Second one, I just got under it. Third at-bat, I check swung. There’s no explaining that.
Smith, who’s being promoted, said he expected a sleepless night waiting for a 6:30 a.m. flight that will carry him to high-A Lake Elsinore.
That’s baseball, though, he said. Schedule’s the schedule.