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Counting down Ranger All Star performances -- #5, Pudge Rodriguez

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As we continue to count down the top 10 Ranger All Star performances, today we look at our entry at #5.

At #9, Pudge Rodriguez shared the honor with Will Clark for his performance in the 1994 All Star Game.  At #5, Pudge gets a slot to himself, for his performance in the 1998 All Star Game.

The 1998 All Star Game was played on July 7, 1998, at Coors Field.  Pudge Rodriguez was voted in as a starter, his seventh straight All Star appearance (he also won his seventh straight Gold Glove in 1998, and his fifth consecutive Silver Slugger).  Juan Gonzalez was also in the starting lineup, batting cleanup, and future Rangers Kenny Lofton and Alex Rodriguez also were starters.  John Wetteland and Aaron Sele were reserves (as was Rafael Palmeiro, although he was a year away from returning to Texas).

Despite being played in Coors Field, the '98 All Star Game was a low-scoring affair early.  Pudge singled off of Greg Maddux to lead off the top of the 2nd, but was erased when Cal Ripken, Jr., grounded into a double play.  The National League got on the board first in the bottom of the third when Roger Clemens loaded the bases with a walk, a single, and an HBP, and then Tony Gwynn singled two runs home.

Down 2-0 in the top of the fourth, Pudge came up with no one out and ARod on first, and picked up his second single of the game off an Atlanta starter, this time victimizing Tom Glavine.  Pudge came around to score the tying run when the next batter, Ripken, double him home.  Glavine continued to struggle, with Damion Easley* singling and Robbie Alomar and Ken Griffey Jr. drawing walks, and he had to be relieved by Kevin Brown.**  By the time the inning was over, the A.L. was up 4-2.

*  Yes, Damion Easley was an All Star.

**  Tom Glavine has a weird All Star history.  He has pitched in six All Star games.  In four of his appearances, he allowed no runs over five innings.  In 1992, he allowed 5 runs in 1 2/3 IP.  And in 1998, he allowed 4 runs in 1 1/3 IP.  As a result, he has a career 10.13 ERA in 8 innings as an All Star.

The N.L. scored a run off of Brad Radke in the bottom of the fourth to get it back to 4-3.  Batting with a one run lead in the top of the 5th, ARod homered off of Andy Ashby* to get it to 5-3.  Next, Pudge hit a ball deep down the right field line off that had A.L. fans thinking that the Junior Circuit had their second homer in a row, but it was not to be...Larry Walker tracked it down for a loud out.

*  More surprising that he was an All Star -- Damion Easley or Andy Ashby?

Pudge's final at bat of the game came in the top of the sixth.  Bartolo Colon had given up a three run Barry Bonds bomb in the bottom of the 5th, so the A.L. was trailing once again.  Ugueth Urbina came into the game for the N.L., and promptly got into trouble, giving up singles to Alomar and Griffey, and then, after a Juan Gone K and a double steal, walking Jim Thome

With Derek Jeter, Captain Clutch, at the plate, you just knew the A.L. was going to tie the score, and sure enough...Jeter leadershipped a passed ball that got away from Javy Lopez, bringing Alomar home as the tying run.  Jeter then struck out, bringing Pudge to the plate with the go-ahead run at third and an insurance run at second.

Urbina and Lopez once again conspired to steal glory from a future Hall of Famer, as, after getting ahead 0-1 on Pudge, Urbina threw a wild pitch, allowing Alomar to score.  Pudge then capitalized on a full-count pitch, lining a single to left field that scored Thome.  Pudge capped off his big night at the plate by stealing second base off of Lopez, before Ripken grounded out to end the inning.

Pudge was lifted in the bottom of the 7th, with a 3 for 4 night in the books, along with his steal of second.  His WPA of .192 for the night was the third-highest for the American League in their 13-8 victory.  Pudge had quite a few All Star appearances in his career, but this was definitely one of his best, and most memorable.