NEW YORK — He huffed and he puffed until he slid down into third base. Hefty slugger Prince Fielder gave the All-Star game some comic relief Tuesday night by rumbling around the bases for a triple to lead off the top of the ninth inning.
Fielder, who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 275 pounds — hmm — came in with 10 triples during the regular season for his career. In his All-Star game experiences, Fielder also has a double and a home run in eight plate appearances. But no three-baggers, until he hit a dying liner to right that Carlos Gomez of the Brewers gambled on with a dive — and lost.
Other than Fielder not needing an oxygen mask after he reached third base head first, the most impressive part of the play might have been NL second baseman Matt Carpenter running into the outfield to back up the play, with center fielder Andrew McCutchen away from the immediate area. Fielder's slide — often a risky maneuver for him — beat a relay throw by an instant.
It all looked so ... natural.
"I saw it drop, and then once I saw that really nobody was around it, I figured I had a chance," Fielder said.
The third-most impressive part of the sequence was Fielder pulling a pitch to right field on a breaking ball located low and away from Jason Grilli. And then there was the giddy reaction by Mariano Rivera:
Rivera's entrance in the eighth inning in his final All-Star appearance towered over everything else about the game, but that doesn't mean Fielder's triple can't be celebrated too. It was a great secondary highlight for Fielder's teammate, Justin Verlander.
"Hahaha," Verlander said when the subject was broached. "Yeah, how 'bout that? I was just thinking, 'It might be the last time I see that.' No, just kidding. He's fun to watch, man. He's a big boy but he can run. It was fun."
Fielder's triple didn't figure in the scoring, as Grilli retired the next three batters to strand him at third base.
Nothing could get Fielder down about his All-Star experience, even though he was eliminated early in the Home Run Derby and was unable to defend his crown. If he couldn't be the Home Run King, he could handle being King of the Triples.
"Regardless, it was fun for me, being here," Fielder said. "My kids had a blast and, for me, that's the big thing. Them having a good time is me having a good time."
We had a good time, too, watching Fielder run and slide.