KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Melky Cabrera gave Royals fans another reason to cringe Tuesday, as if his .353 batting average and 44 RBIs this season for another team weren’t enough.
Cabrera, who was dealt to San Francisco in the offseason for struggling left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, returned to his old stomping grounds and continued a strong 2012 season with a MVP-caliber performance in the 2012 All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium.
And make no mistake about it, Cabrera earned the award, which he later received with a wide grin at the end of the night.
Cabrera, who had more than 200 hits last year for the Royals and made his first All-Star start on Tuesday, finished the game with two hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth off Texas pitcher Matt Harrison that extended the National League’s lead to 8-0 and all but clinched the victory.
“It wasn’t that hard of a hit,” Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp said of Cabrera’s first hit, a single in the first off Detroit ace Justin Verlander. “But then he comes back with a home run. He’s hot right now.
“He can do that against anybody else,” Kemp said of Cabrera, his NL West rival. “Just don’t do it against us.”
Kemp wasn’t the only veteran who had kind words for Cabrera’s performance, either. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who was Cabrera’s teammate for a couple of seasons in New York, could tell Cabrera was having fun. Jeter said Cabrera tried to share a moment with him and New York second baseman Robinson Cano Cabrera rounded the bases on the homer.
“He’s having a good time,” Jeter said. “He tried to high-five Robbie (Cano); he smiled at me. You’ve got to have fun to play this game.”
However, Cabrera wasn’t the only San Francisco Giant to a have a good night. Ace pitcher Matt Cain got the win for the National League, and third baseman Pablo Sandoval garnered MVP consideration after his three-run triple in the first inning off Verlander.
It was a rare occurrence, really. Verlander rarely gets rocked, as he did for five runs in an inning on Tuesday. And Sandoval rarely gets a triple — he entered the game with zero this season. But on this night, Sandoval, a stocky 5-foot-11, 240-pound player nicknamed the Kung-Fu Panda, ripped the ball to right field and sped to third as fast as he could.
“A triple is a triple, no matter how you get there,” Kemp said.
And while Sandoval’s big hit clearly set the tone in the National League’s win, this night belonged to Cabrera, a man who gave Royals fans another reason to miss him.
“Melky had a wonderful first half, swung the bat extremely well,” Jeter said. “I’m always pulling for Melky. I enjoyed playing with him. He was a great teammate. I wish him all the best, just not against us.”