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Johnson steals show at All-Star Game06/19/2013 1:20 AM ET
By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com
LAKEWOOD, N.J. -- In a game billed as power bats against power arms, speed ruled the night. And when Micah Johnson is in the game -- any game -- that's usually the case.
The White Sox prospect stole bases on consecutive pitches and scored a run Tuesday night as the North Division overcame an early deficit to beat the South, 2-1, at the South Atlantic League All-Star Game at FirstEnergy Park.
Rome Braves second baseman Levi Hyams had given the South the lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the first inning, but Johnson turned out to be the difference-maker.
Dilson Herrera of the West Virginia Power singled to center field with one out in the third and Johnson -- the Kannapolis Intimidators second baseman -- followed with a base hit to right that put runners at the corners.
Johnson took off on the next pitch and, when Savannah Sand Gnats catcher Kevin Plawecki threw down to second, Herrera scampered home with the tying run. Johnson wasted no time swiping third, then scored the decisive run on a groundout by Lewis Brinson of the Hickory Crawdads.
"It's the same mind-set I've had all year -- I want to get to third as soon as possible," said Johnson, whowas wearing lighter cleats than normal. "I got on base against [Chris] Stratton earlier this year and he picked me off, but I've been smarter lately. I know his heel comes off the ground when he comes to the plate, so when I saw that, I went."
"I knew Micah had some speed, so when he stole second and third, I knew I had to get that run home. I just had to put it in play," Brinson said. "He makes the game fun and he made that at-bat much easier than it should have been."
It probably should come as no surprise that Johnson stole the show. He leads all Minor Leaguers with 54 thefts and already has 16 multi-steal efforts in 66 games. He's swiped at least one bag in 32 contests.
"It's unbelievable," Johnson said after he was named MVP, "especially playing with all these guys, guys you read about. Their numbers are absurd. It's pretty unbelievable."
In a game decided by speed, things started slowly. Heavy rain throughout the day delayed the start by nearly three hours and league officials also shortened the contest from nine innings to seven.
"Because it was the All-Star game, I didn't know if we would get [the game] in," said Brinson, a Florida native who turned 19 last month. "We wanted to give the fans a show."
Hagerstown Suns right-hander Dixon Anderson pitched around a pair of hits in one inning to get the win.
"We were here to have fun, but getting the win was important," the Nationals prospect said. "When you can put an All-Star win on your resume, it's exciting."
Stratton took the loss after allowing two runs on four hits in the third, his lone inning.