'Good pitching beats good hitting'
McGwire, Sosa have quiet nights at All-Star Game
Posted: Friday July 30, 1999 02:25 PM
BOSTON (CNN/SI) -- The two sluggers who led baseball fans through a season-long home run derby last year couldn't hit squat for the same cause.
Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who each passed Roger Maris' single-season record for homers in the final weeks of the '98 season, led an NL All-Star team eager to thwart the Green Monster. But once faced by Pedro Martinez, David Cone and Mike Mussina, they didn't even get the ball out of the infield.
"I hit some good yesterday," said McGwire, reflecting on his record 13 homers in the first round of the Home Run Derby on Monday. "I get my two strikeouts every All-Star Game I get up. When you see the best of the best, you know ... they're going to go right at you with nasty stuff."
With the National League's two biggest sluggers silenced, the American League won the All-Star Game 4-1 Tuesday night.
McGwire and Sosa energized all of baseball last year with their great home run chase, with McGwire edging Sosa 70-66. They were the star attraction again this week, batting third and fourth in the power-packed National League lineup.
The only damage either inflicted came Monday night, when McGwire delighted the Fenway Park crowd by hitting blast after blast into screen, onto the street and off the light tower in the first round of the Derby.
There would be no repeat performance. After Barry Larkin and Larry Walker struck out against Martinez to open the game, Sosa got his chance against baseball's most dominating pitcher. With a 2-2 count, Sosa waved at a high fastball to end the inning.
McGwire fared no better to open the second, swinging through another fast ball on a 1-2 count. It was the first time in All-Star history that the first four batters in the game struck out.
"He's got the best lively arm in the game of baseball," McGwire said. "He's got three pitches that are devastating. What can you say?"
Sosa led off the fourth with an easy pop-up to first base off David Cone and McGwire followed with a walk.
With runners on second and third and one out in the fifth, Sosa and McGwire had a chance to cut into the AL's 4-1 lead. But Mike Mussina caught Sosa looking and fanned McGwire to end the inning and the night for the two sluggers.
The rest of the NL lineup, which came into the game with 224 homers, fared little better. And none of the players hit a ball against -- or over -- the Green Monster against Martinez and the AL pitchers."I would challenge anybody to score runs off that pitching staff," Larkin said. "I was surprised nobody got a ball to yank over the left-field wall. In BP, everybody did it. Good pitching beats good hitting. That's what it came down to tonight."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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