07/15/2003 11:33 PM ET
Williams sits out as NL falls to AL
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
All-Star box score
CHICAGO -- It wasn't quite as exciting as last year for Mike Williams, but the Pirates closer has no complaints.
In 2002, Williams tossed a perfect inning in back of Curt Schilling in his first All-Star appearance. The 34-year-old brought something to tell his future grandchildren back to Pittsburgh by striking out Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter.
This time around, Williams was merely a spectator in a uniform watching some of the other National League closers give up a 6-3 lead Tuesday night as the American League came from behind to win the Midsummer Classic, 7-6, at U.S. Cellular Field.
Heading into the game, Williams wasn't told one way or the other about whether he'd pitch, other than to "be ready." The fact the alert status never got higher than that didn't faze the man who is tied for third in the National League in saves with 25.
"It was a lot of fun and a good experience," Williams said. "It was a really good game. You couldn't have asked for anything better."
Except for maybe the outcome. Most thought that if the National League could take a lead into the later innings, their three-headed monster of Houston's Billy Wagner, Los Angeles' Eric Gagne and Atlanta's John Smoltz would easily put it away. But Wagner gave up a solo shot to New York's Jason Giambi and Gagne gave up three runs, including the game-winning home run off the bat of Texas' Hank Blalock.
"That's part of the game," Williams said. "[Gagne's] been nails all year, and he'll continue to do so in the second half."
Williams' name had been brought up by national media since his selection as the Pirates' lone representative as a questionable All-Star. Some suggested that with his 6.44 ERA in the first half, Williams provided Exhibit A as to why not every team should have a player in the Midsummer Classic. Williams himself was surprised by the choice, but knew his manager, Lloyd McClendon, gave him a good scouting report to NL skipper Dusty Baker.
"Mac's always been on my side," Williams said. "My personal stats aren't great, but I've done my job as far as the saves department. I think everybody should be represented."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.