KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Officially, the 2012 All-Star Game lasted almost three hours.
Unofficially, it lasted 17 minutes.
Seventeen minutes is how long it took the American League's Justin Verlander, by some accounts the best pitcher on the planet, to give up five runs in the first inning. And while the National Leaguers would tack on three more runs in the fourth, those first five were more than enough.
Verlander might console himself, however half-heartedly, with the knowledge that the American League didn't score a single run in nine innings. So if he hadn't taken the loss, one of his teammates Matt Harrison almost certainly would have. On a night in a year in which the American League dominated the National League in interleague play (again), the National League dominated the American League in the only interleague game that counts against either league.
With all the scoring restricted to just two half-innings, there weren't many hitting highlights.
Carlos Gonzalez led off the game against Verlander, and struck out swinging. But then the hits started coming off Verlander, including Ryan Braun's run-scoring double and Pablo Sandoval's bases-loaded triple.
In the fourth, with the Texas Rangers' Matt Harrison on the mound, Rafael Furcal laced a two-out triple, then scored on Matt Holliday's single. And Melky Cabrera made the score 8-0 with two-run homer that just cleared the left-field fence.
After that meaningless (except to Matt Harrison and Melky Cabrera) fourth, the pitchers for both leagues took over, with zeroes across the board for the game's last five innings.
Before that, though, four of baseball's most interesting players, all of them making their All-Star debuts, looked good (or at least interesting).
In the fifth inning, 19-year-old Bryce Harper pinch-hit for Carlos Beltran and drew a walk, then advanced to second base on a fly ball to left before getting nabbed in a rundown. In the bottom of the fifth, a fly ball dropped to the ground 10 feet behind Harper when he lost it in the Kauffman Stadium lights.
In the sixth, R.A. Dickey -- who had a good claim on the starting job, which went to Matt Cain -- took the mound, and faced 20-year-old Mike Trout. Trout won a couple of battles; first he singled, and then he swiped second base; it was the first time all year that Dickey had allowed a steal. But Dickey ultimately escaped the inning when Miguel Cabrera grounded into a double play.
The American League didn't get a runner to third base until the bottom of the ninth. With rookie Wade Miley pitching, Joe Mauer singled to center field. Elvis Andrus hit into a fielder's choice, with Mauer forced at second and Andrus safe at first. That brought Tony La Russa out of the dugout, and Joel Hanrahan in from the bullpen. Andrus took second base unopposed, then moved to third on a wild pitch. But Hanrahan struck out Billy Butler -- who went 0 for 2 before the home crowd -- and Andrus died on third when Jonathan Papelbon retired Matt Wieters on a fly to right field for the 83rd All-Star Game's final out.
Moments later, Melky Cabrera emerged from the dugout to accept the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player Award. This must have been rough grog for some of the fans who hung around, since Cabrera was a Royal just one year ago.