ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Toledo's Timo Perez seems to have always been on the cusp of doing great things during his career, whether he was playing in New York, Chicago or St. Louis. The diminutive speedster, however, also always seems to be overshadowed by bigger names or bigger sluggers and such almost proved to be the case again Wednesday night.
But in a game that saw four home runs hit, it was Perez's sparkplug performance that stood out the most as the International League edged the Pacific Coast League, 7-5, in the Triple-A All-Star Game before 12,367 fans at Isotopes Park. The victory was the second in a row and fourth in five years for the IL, which also earned the right to be the home team in September's Bricktown Showdown in Oklahoma City.
Perez went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored to earn the International League Star of Stars Award. His RBI double got the scoring started in a four-run first inning that later saw back-to-back homers by Mike Hessman and Brandon Moss. Perez also drove in the IL's final run with a single in the fourth.
Albuquerque's Valentino Pascucci was named as the PCL Star of Stars, and Richmond's Manny Acosta was named as the Pitcher of the Game after retiring the side in dominant fashion in the seventh, including getting Tacoma's Adam Jones looking to end the inning.
Perez's night punctuated a big first half with the Mud Hens -- he's hitting .318, has 46 RBIs and authored an 18-game hitting streak to begin the season. And though he's always hopeful that the folks in Detroit will take notice, he insists he's happy in Toledo and not worrying about when he'll get a call from the Tigers.
"I've been playing good all year just waiting for my chance," he said. "We're playing very well in Toledo but they are playing very good in Detroit too. I'm happy just playing now. I don't want to think about anything else. I'm just a professional.
"I was surprised with tonight, though. I got a couple of base hits and it was very nice."
The PCL cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first with some home-run heroics of its own. After Tacoma's Adam Jones lined a two-out double into the gap in left center, Albuquerque's Valentino Pascucci lined Bryan Bullington's 1-0 offering over the home bullpen in left field. The shot snapped what had been an 11-inning scoreless streak for the PCL in All-Star competition.
Columbus' Brandon Watson, who boasted a 43-game hitting streak earlier this season, padded the IL lead in the third with an RBI double into the left-field corner that scored Indianapolis' Brian Bixler.
The PCL almost shaved a run off that lead later that inning after Tucson's Alex Romero led off with a double and went to third on a wild pitch. Jones struck out but IL catcher J.R. House couldn't hold onto the ball, allowing Jones to reach first base. Romero tried to scored from third on the play, but House made a perfect throw to covering pitcher Chris Booker. The Columbus right-hander dropped down and slapped a tag on Romero before he could get a foot on home plate.
While the IL added to its lead with Perez's RBI double in the fourth, the PCL still had plenty of offense left, scoring three runs to cut the lead to 7-5. Minor League home run leader Craig Brazell [Omaha] led off the fourth with an opposite-field homer before Terry Evans doubled and Vinny Rottino walked.
Travis Hughes' wild pitch put runners on second and third and Clint Barmes brought Evans home with a sacrifice fly to center. Iowa's Eric Patterson followed with an RBI single, but was picked off by Craig Breslow, who came on in relief, to end the inning.
The PCL could draw no closer though it staged rallies in the eighth and ninth. The hosts loaded the bases in the eighth with two outs, but Albuquerque's Robert Andino struck out to end the inning. In the ninth, Pascucci was up with a runner on first but struck out looking to end the game.
"That's tough because the pitch might have been a tad off the plate," Pascucci said. "He put it on the corner and he got the call. But it's always fun to play in front of the hometown fans."