DETROIT - They have been doing it all season in their little corner of the sporting world. Now, all of baseball witnessed their excellence - and the most observant fans saw their goofiness.
Last night, on the summer's biggest baseball stage, Baltimore's dynamic middle-infield duo offered a crash course on why the previously also-ran Orioles have hung around with the big boys in the American League East.
Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada homered and drove in two runs, second baseman Brian Roberts doubled and scored a run, and they combined to turn two tough double plays to lead the American League to a 7-5 victory in major league baseball's 76th All-Star Game. Before the game for good luck, right after Tejada's homer and after the game, Tejada said he, Roberts and Mora busted out "The Move," their hand-slapping goofy celebration that they do after Orioles' regular season wins. "I don't know if you guys saw it, but we all did `The Move,'" Tejada said. "We all three were happy ... I hope everybody in Baltimore is happy, too."
For his two-RBI, two-double-play-turning night, Tejada was named the game's Most Valuable Player a record sixth time an Oriole has won the honor since it was first presented in 1962. The Orioles had been tied with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers for most All-Star Game MVPs.
Brooks Robinson (1966), Frank Robinson (1971), Roberto Alomar (1998) and Cal Ripken (1991, 2001) also won the honor. Frank Robinson did it the last time the game was played in Detroit.
"It makes me real proud to be in a group with those guys," Tejada said.
Before Tejada picked up a bat, he and Roberts had already made a difference in the game. With one on and no outs in the top of the first, New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran smashed a grounder to the left side of second base. Tejada knocked it down and flipped to Roberts, who stepped on the bag, spun around and threw out the speedy Beltran at first.
"We take our defense seriously. We never take that for granted, that's for sure," Roberts said. "That's a huge part of the game."
That play set the tone for the American League, which is 8-0-1 in its last nine games while closing the National League's overall winning record in All-Star Games to 40-34-2.
Most important, with the win the AL earned World Series home-field advantage for the second consecutive year.
For the sixth time in seven contests, the American League scored first. Leading off the second inning, Tejada crushed a 0-1 fastball from the Atlanta Braves' John Smoltz into the left-field seats for a 436-foot bases-empty homer.
It was the first time an Orioles All-Star had homered since Ripken did it in 2001. And it came as no surprise to Roberts or Orioles closer B.J. Ryan that Tejada would steal the headlines. They each told him separately before the game that they expected him to shine.
"I just said he was going to do something big tonight," Ryan said. "I couldn't put my finger on it or what it was going to be, but you knew it was going to be something special.
"You could say that every day and come out ahead. ... We really didn't go out on a big limb there."
Tejada, who went 1-for-3 with two RBIs, drove in another run in the two-run third with a groundout. With the MVP honor, Tejada was awarded a new yellow Chevrolet sports car.
"I'm thinking he is going to give it to me, I hope," Roberts joked.
In the top of the fourth, Tejada and Roberts snuffed out another potential NL rally. With runners on first and second and no outs against Minnesota's Johan Santana, Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit a shot to Roberts, who fed Tejada.
The quick throw from Tejada to first was a bit off-line, but he got a little help from another Baltimore-based player, Texas Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira, a Mount St. Joseph graduate also starting his first All-Star Game.
Teixeira came off the bag to snag the throw and then tagged Ramirez to complete the double play. The teams combined to turn an All-Star Game-record five double plays. The three by the American League tied the record for one club.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the AL added two more runs on the Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki's two-run single that scored the Boston Red Sox's Jason Varitek and Roberts, who had previously doubled down the right-field line. In his only other at-bat, Roberts flied to left.
"It was awesome, it was incredible," Roberts said of doubling in his first All-Star Game. The hits in the fourth came against Washington Nationals ace Livan Hernandez. The Nationals' other representative, closer Chad Cordero, entered with two outs and a runner on in the eighth and struck out Ivan Rodriguez. It was the only batter he faced.