Richmond shortstop Brandon Crawford, originally selected to compete in Wednesday night's Eastern League All-Star Game at Metro Bank Park, was unable to play due to injury. His replacement: d'Arnaud.
He made good on that selection by hitting a seventh-inning grand slam off Eastern Division pitcher Drew Naylor to earn MVP honors and propel the Western Division squad to a 10-3 win over the East before a stadium-record crowd of 8,078.
"Once I got a chance to play in this game, I intended to do something," said d'Arnaud, who is batting .240 (80-for-334) with a pair of homers and 31 RBIs for the Western Division-leading Curve. "I got my chance and made the most of it.
"There were a lot of talented players in this game, and what I did doesn't make me any better than anyone else. I'm certainly happy I got the big hit."
Pittsburgh's fourth-round Draft pick in 2008 hit a 3-2 pitch high over the right-field wall. He had faced Naylor a few times before and took advantage of a mistake.
"It was a curveball up," he said. "I recognized it. I faced Naylor a few times before and it was good I was able to face a pitcher I knew."
It was d'Arnaud's third time in a midsummer classic, having been previously named an All-Star in the New York-Penn and South Atlantic leagues.
"I've participated (in All-Star Games), but I've never been the MVP before," he said. "This is special."
The contest had been dominated by an assortment of pitchers until he connected in the seventh. Each team scored a pair of runs in the second, with Portland's Nate Spears delivering an RBI double and New Britain's Ben Revere a sacrifice fly to give the Eastern club a 2-0 advantage in the top of the inning.
The Western club knotted matters in the bottom of the frame, courtesy of a two-out, two-RBI triple by Altoona's Josh Harrison.
Things were quiet after that until Akron's Lonnie Chisenhall's RBI single put the Western crew ahead, 3-2, in the seventh. Then Chisenhall, Richmond's Thomas Neal and Bowie's Tyler Henson crossed the plate on d'Arnaud's blast.
"I just got the big hit," d'Arnaud said. "Really our whole team did well."
Erie's Andy Dirks followed d'Arnaud's slam with a blast over the right-field wall to make it 8-2. The East notched a run in the top of the eighth on an RBI groundout by New Hampshire's Brian Jeroloman. Harrisburg's Chris Marrero singled and Akron's John Drennen followed with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to complete the scoring.
Naylor took the loss, while Harrisburg's Rafael Martin earned the win, contributing two of the Western staff's nine strikeouts in a scoreless inning.
Extras: Altoona catcher Hector Gimenez gave the Curve a sweep of honors by winning the Home Run Derby. ... NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick, who threw out the first pitch, is a fan of the Yankees and his hometown Winston-Salem Dash, who also opened a new ballpark this season. "We're at the Dash games whenever we can," said Harvick. "It's great to see this park in Harrisburg and see how Minor League Baseball becomes the centerpiece of a town like this."