By the time the 1987 All-Star Game was over, Bret Saberhagen’s efforts would almost be forgotten.
Saberhagen set the tone early, starting for the American League All-Stars and going three shutout innings in a game that didn’t see a score until the top of the 13th.
1987 was Saberhagen’s first All-Star game as he started to build an impressive resume as a young starter for the Royals. He’d already won the Cy Young Award in 1985 and followed that up with a World Series MVP award as well. He’d add another All-Star appearance in 1990, another Cy Young Award in 1989 (as well as a Gold Glove) and threw a no-hitter in 1991.
In the first half of 1987, Saberhagen pitched 149.2 innings, including 11 complete games (3 shutouts) in 18 starts. His ERA stood at 2.47 by the time the All-Star Game came around. With a 15-3 record, he was worthy of the starting spot in the exhibition.
Eric Davis lead off against Saberhagen with a groundout to short. Ryne Sandberg grounded out as well, this time to third. The only hit Saberhagen gave up was to Andre Dawson who doubled down the left field line, but was stranded after another groundout, this time by Mike Schmidt.
By this point, Saberhagen and National League starter Mike Scott were going inning for inning and Saberhagen stepped to the mound with the game still scoreless. Ozzie Smith lined out to left and Scott was pulled for pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn who grounded out to short. Eric Davis grounded out for a second time against Saberhagen to end the inning and end Saberhagen’s outing.
The final line was three innings, one hit and seven ground outs.
Saberhagen’s final numbers looked fine, but he had rough patches the rest of the 1987 season. His first start after the break was rough. He made it through 3.1 innings against Cleveland on July 20, giving up six runs and he had more rough starts in the second half (2nd half stats), finishing with a 3.36 ERA in 257 innings. He still had four complete games in the second half and added a shutout.