07/15/2003 10:19 PM ET
Garciaparra impressed by Blalock
CHICAGO -- Boston superstar Nomar Garciaparra was asked what he thought about an "unknown" second-year player from Texas like Hank Blalock coming up with the game-winning hit in the All-Star Game and in his first at bat, no less.
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
"I know who he is, and the guy who caught the home run ball in right-center knows who he is," Garciaparra said. "I can't tell you how many people didn't know him, but there's got to be fewer of them now."
It was a rare night in another way in that Garciaparra, who has made a habit of taking over most games in which he has participated with his bat or his glove, played a smaller role in the American League's 7-6 win Tuesday. Garciaparra replaced Alex Rodriguez at shortstop to start the seventh.
Garciaparra may not have had his usual big night, but he still immensely enjoyed the thrilling comeback that culminated in his team's win at U.S. Cellular Field.
"The intensity was there, just like it always was," Garciaparra said. "You had a lot of good players competing and playing hard, and it was a great game."
A great game with a dream ending for Blalock and the AL.
"To come back on a guy like that [Los Angeles closer Eric Gagne] -- he's nasty, he's a great pitcher," Garciaparra said. "That's not something you see very often."
The Red Sox slugger grounded out to shortstop on a 2-2 pitch from Gagne leading off the eighth in his only at-bat, but he played flawless defense in his three innings in the field.
Not a typical Garciaparra performance, but certainly an enjoyable one.
"Fun to watch and fun to play," Garciaparra said. "What a great comeback. It was unbelievable. First time in an All-Star Game and [Blalock] hits a home run in his first at bat against one of the best pitchers in the game? What more do you want?"
The fans got their money's worth, and the Junior Circuit got home-field advantage for the World Series.
"Hopefully we can get it," Garciaparra said. "That's what you play for, to get to the World Series."
The only disappointing note as far as Boston was concerned was that catcher Jason Varitek did not get to play.
"[AL manager Mike Scioscia] made it clear that it might happen [that I wouldn't play]," Varitek said. "I've got no problem with that. I understand completely. It was just great to be a part of all of this."
Scioscia said Varitek was in line to get in the game if it had gone any longer.
"We knew going in there were certain slots and certain roles we were going to use some of the guys," Scioscia said. "Jason was going to be going in if the game had gone on."
But both were around to celebrate the win and congratulate Blalock and the rest of their AL teammates.
"This was a lot of fun," Varitek said.
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.