By Jon Weisman
Six years have passed since a Dodger closer pitched in the All-Star Game. Kenley Jansen gets to end that streak tonight.
Jansen, overdue for his first All-Star Game, might not get to pitch the final inning, so it’s more likely than not that Jonathan Broxton’s save in 2010 remains the most recent in the Midsummer Classic by a Dodger. Nevertheless, Jansen should get a chance to etch his name among the team’s 76 previous All-Star appearances.
Of course, Jansen could also become the first Dodger pitcher credited with an All-Star victory since Jerry Reuss in front of the 1980 hometown crowd in Los Angeles. Since then, three Dodgers have been the losing All-Star pitcher: Chan Ho Park (2001), Eric Gagne (2003) and Clayton Kershaw (2015). Dodger pitchers have a 6-6 record in 12 All-Star decisions.
Certainly, it was nowhere to go but up for the franchise after its ignominious All-Star debut via Van Lingle Mungo, who allowed four runs plus two inherited runs in a six-run fifth inning by the American League in 1934. Not that Mungo had it easy: He entered the game with Babe Ruth on second base, Lou Gehrig on first and Jimmie Foxx at the plate. Two walks, three singles and a double later, the AL had gone from trailing 4-2 to leading 8-4.
The most famous Dodger All-Star pitching performance belongs to Fernando Valenzuela, who from the fourth through sixth innings in 1986 faced 10 batters, retired nine and struck out the first five — Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken Jr., Jesse Barfield, Lou Whitaker and Teddy Higuera — all in a row. Kirby Puckett’s groundout was the first ball in play against Valenzuela, whose outing was marred only by a pop-fly Wade Boggs single in the sixth.
Though it is less remembered, a 22-year-old Don Drysdale did Valenzuela one better in baseball’s first of two 1959 All-Star Games, starting and pitching three perfect innings with four strikeouts. In order, Drysdale set down Minnie Minoso, Nellie Fox, Al Kaline, Bill Skowron, Rocky Colavito, Gus Triandos, Harmon Killebrew, Luis Aparicio and Early Wynn.
Eight other times has an MLB pitcher thrown three perfect All-Star innings, including Jim Bunning twice, and only Gary Peters in 1967 did it with as many strikeouts as Drysdale. Roger Clemens was the last, in 1986.
In his career, Drysdale pitched at least three All-Star shutout innings three different times, repeating the feat in 1962 (first game) and 1968, a month after his then-record 58-inning scoreless streak ended. Six other pitchers have that trifecta: Hal Newhouser, Juan Marichal, Mel Harder (including a five-inning stint), Bob Feller, Ewell Blackwell and Bunning.
Drysdale is the only other Dodger besides Valenzuela to strike out five in an All-Star Game, though he allowed three runs and took the loss in that contest, 1959’s second. That was also the only time a Dodger All-Star ever allowed two homers in a game (Frank Malzone and Yogi Berra).
On top of that, Drysdale walked three, an inglorious feat matched by fellow Dodger pitchers Ralph Branca (1948), Johnny Podres (1960), Andy Messersmith (1974) and Kevin Brown (2000).
Kirby Higbe (1946) is the only Dodger besides Mungo to allow four runs in an All-Star Game. Higbe, Bob Welch (1980) and Burt Hooton (1981) each allowed a Dodger-high five hits. Osteen (1970) and Eric Gagne (2003) are the only Dodgers to allow two doubles in an All-Star Game.