PHOENIX -- Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko enjoyed a couple days of homecoming at the All-Star Game. Now, they head back to the familiar surroundings of the American League Central.
They didn't leave town without some excitement, though.
What looked like a relatively easy National League win for most of Tuesday night turned into an opportunity for the AL All-Stars to get back into the game in the ninth. Konerko stood at the plate against Giants closer Brian Wilson with two outs, and White Sox teammate Carlos Quentin stood on third. Tampa Bay's Matt Joyce was on second.
Konerko worked his way out of an 0-2 hole to run the count even, but the fifth slider he saw from Wilson was the one that got him, inducing a game-ending groundout to short. The 5-1 National League victory put a sour ending on Konerko's All-Star experience, but it didn't ruin it for him.
"Can't complain," he said. "I got a couple at-bats, and I liked both of the at-bats. This is good pitching. If you can get some swings in and battle out there, you feel good about it. I wanted to extend the game there at the end, maybe pick up a knock and keep it going."
Konerko, who earned the last spot on the AL roster as the winner of the All-Star Game Final Vote, entered the game in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter for starting designated hitter David Ortiz. He drew a two-out walk off Braves closer Craig Kimbrel before the Angels' Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the threat.
The late drama ended a couple days' worth of activities for the All-Stars. At least for Konerko, though, he could head home after the game without having to hop on a plane.
"I had fun with it," Konerko said. "Logistically, with family and friends and kids and all that, having my house, it definitely was easy to move everything around. You get a lot of stuff at these games that you have to ship off to other cities. I can just drop them off. But the game itself and all the festivities, kind of the same, just a little bit more easygoing for me."
Once he got to the ballpark for the game, though, it was just like any other Midsummer Classic.
"I mean, the other games that I played in, you know you have some family and friends in the stands, and you know people are watching," Konerko said. "But you learn how to block that stuff out. The only thing that's odd for everybody is that everybody here's a starting player, so to get into these games late, you're kind of a fish out of water. It can either help you or hurt you, but it's definitely odd."
It wasn't quite the same type of homecoming for Quentin, but it definitely felt familiar. Quentin got his start in Chase Field, having played for the D-backs in 2006 and 2007 after they selected him in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft
Quentin replaced Jose Bautista in right field in the sixth inning and went 0-for-2, but reached on a one-out error from Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro in the ninth inning to help create an opportunity to try to get back into it. Quentin fouled out in the seventh inning.
"It was great," Quentin said. "I think the fans had a good time. They got to see a game that featured the best in our sport. It was nice to see Arizona did a good job hosting this thing."
Konerko is not a fan of the All-Star format that awards home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning league, saying it's difficult to have a player on a last-place team with that kind of impact on the Fall Classic. He would rather see home field alternate. But he liked the intensity.
"Definitely, the attitude around the game is serious," Konerko said. "Yesterday was kind of all fun, but as it was leading up to the game today in the dugout, it was definitely more [intense]. My first one definitely felt like it was an exhibition, but all the other ones I have been in, there's definitely a feeling like you want to win the game. It's just tough to get behind in this game when you start running out all those relievers."
Now, after a little more time at home, he'll be off to Detroit with his teammates to start the second half. From there, they have a chance to make an immediate impact on the AL Central race. They'll meet the first-place Tigers and All-Star teammate Justin Verlander, who wasn't eligible to pitch in the Midsummer Classic but will pitch on normal rest Friday.
"We can't have a hiccup," Konerko said. "We have to get going right away, and they have the big guy going, so we have to fight and try to break his serve."