Alex Gordon couldn’t have gotten much more in his first All-Star Game at-bat.
It was a long drive, but just not quite long enough.
Gordon drove a Jason Grilli offering to the warning track in deep center field, just short of the wall 408 feet from home plate, where Andrew McCutchen, who like Grilli plays for Pittsburgh, settled under it to record the final out in the American League half of the ninth inning.
A couple of feet farther, or if the fences at New York’s Citi Field were a couple of feet shorter, and Gordon would have joined a short list of players who homered in their first All-Star Game plate appearance.
Still Gordon, the former Nebraska All-American from Lincoln Southeast, and his American League teammates were able to celebrate a 3-0 victory Tuesday night that also earned the AL representative home field advantage for the World Series in October.
Gordon entered the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, replacing starter Adam Jones of Baltimore in the lineup.
He tracked down a lineout by St. Louis’ Allen Craig in the eighth inning, as the two-time Gold Glove winner made a nice running catch.
Gordon was one of three Kansas City Royals in the game, along with catcher Salvador Perez and closer Greg Holland. All played Class AAA baseball in Omaha. Gordon’s last season in the minors was 2010, Holland last pitched in Omaha in 2011 and Perez rehabbed in Omaha last season after a short stay with the Storm Chasers in 2011.
All three entered Tuesday’s game in the bottom of the inning.
Both Gordon and Perez were selected to play in the All-Star game as reserves in voting by league players, managers and coaches. Holland was named to the team as a replacement for Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma, who was unavailable after pitching for the Mariners on Sunday.
Gordon, 29, is batting .283 with nine homers and 49 RBIs. Perez is batting .284 with 38 RBIs and, like Gordon, is one of the game’s best defensively at his position. Holland is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 22 saves while striking out 60 in 35 innings.
Holland faced two batters Tuesday, getting Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt to ground out before giving up a single to the David Wright of the New York. Perez singled in his only at-bat, in the eighth inning against Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel. Perez also caught the final All-Star inning for sure-fire Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, the 13-time All-Star who will retire after the season.