Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Derek Jeter has been the face of Major League Baseball for two decades, while the torchbearer for the unofficial title as the game's best player has fluctuated between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout.
Those storylines proved no different Tuesday, as the future Hall-of-Fame shortstop and peerless sluggers combined forces in the 85th Midsummer Classic to power the American League to a 5-3 victory over the National League in front of a capacity crowd at Target Field.
Cabrera belted a two-run homer in the first inning, while Trout doubled, tripled, drove in two runs and scored another to help give the Junior Circuit home field advantage for this year's World Series.
Trout took home the MVP award, but all eyes were nevertheless focused on Jeter, who delivered two hits and scored a run out of the AL's leadoff spot in what will be his 14th and final All-Star Game with retirement looming at the end of the season.
Jonathan Lucroy hit a pair of RBI doubles to pace the NL, which went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and has dropped back-to-back All-Star Games on the heels of a three-game winning streak.
Jeter's presence was felt immediately, as the 40-year-old shortstop made a diving stab up the middle on a ball hit by leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen.
Even though the speedy McCutchen beat the throw to first by a half-step, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez stranded him on third via a pair of strikeouts and a groundout in his only inning of work.
St. Louis' Adam Wainwright was awarded the start for the NL and was knocked around for three runs in the first inning, which started with the Yankees captain lacing a patented double to the opposite field.
Reports quoting Wainwright as saying he eased up on Jeter were quickly dismissed from the horse's mouth.
"What was said was missaid. I did not want to be a distraction," a contrite Wainwright said via a televised interview during the game.
Trout followed Jeter's hit with an RBI triple off the right-field wall, and Cabrera sent a screamer toward left field and into the stands with a compact but highly effective swing for an early 3-0 AL lead.
The Senior Circuit bounced back with two runs in the second off Boston's Jon Lester. Aramis Ramirez reached on a one-out base hit, while Chase Utley and Lucroy each knocked in a run with a double, with Utley's caroming high off the wall in right and Lucroy sending one over Trout's head in left.
Jeter led off the third with another base hit but was left in scoring position, and when play resumed in the top of the fourth, AL manager John Farrell made sure Jeter was given a proper sendoff by pulling him after warmups, prompting yet another loud round of applause.
"I thought it was great. I didn't know what was going to happen," Jeter said. "It was a wonderful moment that I'm always going to remember."
After the touching farewell, which included a rendition of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," the NL pulled even in its half of the fourth. Utley took a pitch off the left elbow from Chicago's Chris Sale and was replaced on the basepaths by steals leader Dee Gordon, who scored the tying run without a play at the plate on another two-bagger from Lucroy.
The comeback took Wainwright off the hook for the loss, a distinction that fell to teammate Pat Neshek following an unlucky fifth inning.
Neshek, a product of nearby Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park, surrendered back-to-back singles to Derek Norris and Jeter's replacement, Alexei Ramirez, before Trout sent a chopper down the third-base line that appeared to bounce in foul territory past the bag. As Aramis Ramirez failed to make a backhanded stop, umpire Scott Barry ruled the ball fair and Norris scored easily.
Jose Altuve tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly, and the pitchers from both sides took over from there.
Max Scherzer, last year's AL All-Star starter and reigning Cy Young Award winner, earned the win by tossing a scoreless fifth, Koji Uehara left a runner on third in the sixth by striking out Devin Mesoraco, and Greg Holland hurled a 1-2-3 seventh.
The NL had the tying run on base in the eighth, but Fernando Rodney fanned Daniel Murphy to keep it a two-run game.
Minnesota's own Glen Perkins retired the side in order in the ninth to close out the victory.