The National League defeated the American League 5-1 at tonight’s All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, clinching home field advantage for the World Series for the second straight season. This is the first time the National League has won back-to-back All-Star Games since they took home three straight from 1994-1996.
Prince Fielder won the MVP for his go-ahead three-run homer off C.J. Wilson in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the National League’s pitching was dominant. The American League managed just six hits, the lone run scoring when Adrian Gonzalez took Cliff Lee deep in the top of the fourth inning. By the way, that home run by Gonzalez was the first homer in an All-Star Game since J.D. Drew in 2008.
Interestingly, Nationals right-hander Tyler Clippard was credited with the win, despite giving up a hit to the only batter he faced. Clippard came on in relief of Lee in the top of the fourth and gave up a single to Adrian Beltre, but Hunter Pence threw out Jose Bautista at home plate for the final out of the inning.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy selected four of his pitchers for the National League roster, but Brian Wilson was the only one who made an appearance. He recorded the final two outs of the ballgame after Joel Hanrahan ran into a little trouble, thanks to some sloppy defense. Coincidence or not, he used a pair of Phillies (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee) and three Braves pitchers (Jair Jurrjens, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel). All due to respect to Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, but if there’s anybody that needs a rest, it’s Venters and Kimbrel.
It was a quick game, just a hair under three hours, but I think we’ll hear a lot about who wasn’t there for the American League. And I’m not talking about Derek Jeter. The injury to Josh Beckett changed things a bit, but the only starters to pitch in the game for the American League were Jered Weaver, Michael Pineda, C.J Wilson, Alexi Ogando and Gio Gonzalez. And that’s obviously not the best the American League has to offer. If the All-Star game is supposed to “count,” something will have to change.
With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.
With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:
If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.
Matt Holliday might not have a landing spot with the Cardinals in 2017, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hang his cleats up just yet. Prior to the Cardinals’ afternoon set against the Pirates on Saturday, the 36-year-old expressed his desire to further his career elsewhere, even if staying in St. Louis is not a possibility.
It’s been a down year for the outfielder, who batted .242/.318/.450 through 107 games before landing on the disabled list with a fractured right thumb. His 0.6 fWAR is the lowest mark of his career to date. Notwithstanding two injury-riddled seasons (he was sidelined through most of 2015 with a right quadriceps strain), he’s performed admirably for the Cardinals over the past eight years, putting up a .292/.379/.494 batting line, 156 home runs, and 26.8 fWAR with the club. With a return to full health, he might not be on the market for long.