Rangers manager Buck Showalter had lobbied in his outfielder's behalf for this year's Midsummer Classic, but his petition came up empty. Mench, who finished 1-for-5, let his bat do the talking for now, and possibly for the future.
"Kevin used to let a bad at-bat affect him for a game or two," Showalter said. "He has experience and he is understanding that you move on."
It shows. Mench has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, and has his average up to .291 with 42 RBIs. He has 12 home runs. Whether his game is good enough to join the game's elite is up for debate. On Monday, it definitely was, but he did not do it alone.
With the Rangers trailing, 5-4, in the ninth, Michael Young hit a one-out triple to the gap in right-center field off Red Sox closer Keith Foulke, and scored when Mark Teixeira followed with a sharp double to right field to tie the game at 5.
Hank Blalock drew a walk and Foulke hit Alfonso Soriano with a pitch to load the bases to set up Mench's heroics.
From the depths of a near-defeat, the Rangers fought back. A long way back, like 446 feet back.
Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez, one of seven American League All-Star selections who played in the game -- not including Rangers starter Kenny Rogers -- broke a 3-3 deadlock with a mammoth 446-foot home run to center field off Rangers reliever Joaquin Benoit. With David Ortiz on base, the two-run blast gave the Red Sox a lead 5-3 in the top of the eighth. Benoit fell behind 2-0 to Ramirez before grooving a fastball into the slugger's hitting zone.
Ramirez did the rest, leaving little doubt about the ball's destination and only one question -- which fan would recover the ball.
"I made a mistake with that pitch, but I have to give him credit," Benoit said. "Certain situations demand a certain pitch, but today I don't think it was my night, even though I got the win. Things happen. I won't be perfect all year."
Upon contact, Ramirez watched from just outside of the batter's box as the ball shot high across the middle of the diamond. A disgusted Benoit looked in the direction of the visitor's on deck circle in disbelief waiting for a new ball.
All Rangers All-Stars Teixeira, Young and Soriano could do was watch the ball soar and land more than halfway up the grassy area above center field. Ramirez's fellow All-Stars, Johnny Damon, Ortiz and Jason Varitek, celebrated.
"I had a long time to think after that one," Teixeira said with a smile. "He's a great hitter. This team is capable of putting up eight, nine, 10 runs a game. At 5-3 right there, we are still in the ballgame."
"Kevin used to let a bad at-bat affect him for a game or two. He has experience and he is understanding that you move on."
-- Rangers manager Buck Showalter on Kevin Mench
The Rangers cut the lead to one run with a RBI double by Rod Barajas in the eighth. Young, Teixeira and Soriano joined the All-Star party in the next inning.
Mench finished it.
As for Rangers starter Ricardo Rodriguez, he cruised through the first two innings, but ran into trouble in the third when he walked three consecutive hitters with two outs, resulting in a run. Red Sox shortstop Edgar Renteria cut the Rangers' lead to one run later in the inning when he scooted home from third base to make the score 3-2.
Trot Nixon lined out to Teixeira to end the inning, and Rodriguez went on to retire the next three batters for a crisp fourth frame. A scoreless fifth, highlighted by a splendid double play started on a sharp ball hit to Teixeira, kept the momentum and lead in the Rangers' favor, but all of that would begin to change in the sixth.
Ortiz led off the inning with a double to the gap in left-center field and Rodriguez retired the next batter, Ramirez, for the first out of the frame.
The righty would not retire another batter and was immediately replaced by Juan Dominguez with Nixon strolling to the plate. All Nixon did was tie the game at 3 with a drive over the head of Mench in left field that scored Ortiz from second base. Kevin Millar grounded out and Dominguez struck out Varitek swinging to end the inning, but the damage had been done, the score was tied and it was anybody's ballgame.
Rodriguez was charged with three runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings for the no-decision. Dominguez allowed one hit in one inning before yielding to Brian Shouse.
"It was not my night, but I did my best," Rodriguez said. "We all competed. When you have an offense like we have, you are always in the game. After the walks, I was better."
The Rangers scored three runs in the first inning off Red Sox starter Wade Miller on three hits. But Miller would allow only two more hits during the next five scoreless innings to keep the World Series champions within striking distance.
"It's a huge win for us," Teixeira said. "We know we have very little margin for error right now, and to be able to win a close one against the defending world champions is great."