Duchscherer overcomes flu in Classic
A's right-hander battles fatigue, makes first All-Star appearance
NEW YORK -- A draining fight with what he thought was the flu put a little dent in Justin Duchscherer's All-Star experience and likely contributed to his shaky inning of work, but not enough of one to prevent him from having a good time in his second trip to the Midsummer Classic.
Though Oakland's ace right-hander spent much of Monday afternoon resting in his hotel room, he managed to make it out to Yankee Stadium for the American League workout and later took in The Josh Hamilton Show during the State Farm Home Run Derby.
Still under the weather Tuesday, he had to skip the red-carpet ride through the fan-packed streets of Manhattan. A three-hour nap got him right again, though, and when he arrived at the park for the 79th All-Star Game, he got medical clearance to do the one thing he didn't get to do as a member of the AL squad in 2005: pitch.
"The doctor said I have a viral infection, but as long as I think I can go, I can go," Duchscherer said before the game. "Tito [AL manager Terry Francona] said I was going to pitch the sixth inning as long as the doctor said I was OK, and that was the whole point of resting so much while I was here. I want to pitch."
Francona kept his word, sending Duchscherer out for the sixth with the National League leading, 1-0. It was 2-0 when he left and the teams played on for nine more innings before Michael Young's 15th-inning sacrifice fly gave the AL an epic 4-3 victory.
"I wasn't real sharp, but I'm happy to have been in the game," said Duchscherer, who said he felt a little lethargic. "I'm glad that run didn't cost us the game."
Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins greeted Duchscherer with a hard single to left and cruised to third on a hit-and-run single to right by Chase Utley of the Phillies before scoring on a sacrifice fly to center by Lance Berkman of the Astros.
Albert Pujols of the Cardinals followed with a single to center before Duchscherer struck out the NL leader in batting average, Chipper Jones of the Braves, and retired Colorado's Matt Holliday, who had homered an inning earlier, on an infield popup to finalize the 22-pitch frame.
And while Duchscherer, whose 1.82 ERA is the best in the Majors, wasn't thrilled with the outing, he was thrilled with the AL's win.
"Not feeling well does change the experience a little bit," Duchscherer said. "I haven't really enjoyed myself the way I would have if I felt great. But I've done pretty much everything else."
The highlight, Duchscherer said, was Hamilton's 28-homer barrage in the first round of the Derby, breaking the single-round record set by Bobby Abreu in Detroit four summers ago.
"That was incredible," Duchscherer said of Hamilton's performance. "I was in Detroit in '05 when Abreu set the record with 24, and back then I thought, 'No way is anyone ever going to beat that.' And Hamilton was at 21, I think, with eight outs, and he just went nuts after that, just crushing everything.
"When he got to 23, I was really hoping he'd break it. It's pretty cool to have seen the first record up close, then see the record get broken like that."
Also cool for Duchscherer was the sense of call he felt as a second-time All-Star.
"It's definitely a different experience," Duchscherer said. "It doesn't seem like the whirlwind it was last time. I've kind of taken a step back and actually talked to some of the guys and really been relaxed. Last time, I was like, 'I can't believe I'm here.' So it's definitely been fun."
He'll be able to relax even more for the next few days. The A's open the second half Friday at Yankee Stadium, and Duchscherer is scheduled to pitch Sunday.
"It's nice," Duchscherer said. "I don't have to go anywhere. I can just take care of myself and get ready for my next start."
Mychael Urban is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.