NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- Having spent the last four years injured or playing in independent leagues, Javier Herrera knew that the Eastern League All-Star Game would give him an opportunity to showcase what he can do.
It took him only two pitches to shine.
The Giants farmhand took Anthony Ranaudo deep over the center-field wall for a three-run homer in the first inning that propelled the Western Division to a 5-0 blanking of the East on Wednesday night in front of a record crowd of 8,633 at New Britain Stadium.
"I was excited, nervous, anxious. I didn't know what was going through my mind," Herrera said. "[Ranaudo] was a little bit wild the first two batters and all I wanted to do was see good pitches and put the barrel on it."
Herrera, who spent 2012 in the Frontier League a year after missing a full season due to hamstring issues, was named All-Star MVP.
"It's a good thing that I'm healthy and can show people that I am capable of doing a lot of special things," the 28-year-old outfielder said. "He threw me a fastball first pitch, second one was right in the middle. I consider myself an aggressive hitter and I'm just trying to have quality at-bats."
Herrera shares the league lead with 37 extra-base hits and ranks seventh with a .310 average. He finished eighth in Tuesday night's Home Run Derby.
"I've been through a lot of things and I just so appreciate everything," he said. "My family told me, 'Don't give up, don't quit, ever.' Now I'm here just for them.
"I'm going to give [the MVP] trophy to my mom. She's the one that got me here."
After Herrera's heroics, the night belonged to the pitchers as the teams combined for 11 hits. Six West hurlers limited the East to four singles and a double.
Starter Mike Wright of the Bowie Baysox set the tone, mowing down the East on 12 pitches in the opening inning to earn the win and the fans' vote as MVP. Will Startup of the Erie SeaWolves and Phil McCormick of the Flying Squirrels also worked perfect frames for the winners.
The West struck for two more runs in the fourth as Akron's Carlos Moncrief delivered an RBI single and came home on a base hit by Altoona's Jarek Cunningham. Right fielder Cesar Puello of the Binghamton Mets limited the damage when he threw out Cunningham trying to score on a single by Harrisburg's Brian Goodwin.
Moncrief returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, cutting down Puello as he tried to go from first to third on a base hit by New Britain's Josmil Pinto.
"I knew the ball was wet," Moncrief said. "I knew I had a chance, but he was past second by the time I got the ball. I made sure I got a real good grip on it, grabbed it tighter than I usually would so that it wouldn't slip out and I would throw it in the stands."
Pinto, the Rock Cats' everyday catcher, was the only player with a multi-hit night, adding a double in front of his home crowd.
"It was a good experience," he said. "I go out there and try to give it my best effort. We lost, but I think it was a good game. We tried to put on a good game for the fans. I think they enjoyed it."
Ranaudo -- the Red Sox's No. 16 prospect -- experienced some early command issues. He walked the game's first two batters before serving up Herrera's homer ball and was saddled with the loss.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MiLB.com.