NL dominates in first All-Star shutout since 1996

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It was all National League, right from the start.

Pablo Sandoval and company jumped on Justin Verlander to take a 5-0 lead in the top of the first and cruised from there on the way to an 8-0 victory for the NL in the 83rd All-Star Game, the third straight win for the Senior Circuit.

Sandoval delivered the first bases-loaded triple in All-Star Game history in the first off Verlander. Giants teammate Melky Cabrera proved to be the game’s MVP. He singled and scored in the first and later hit a two-run homer in the fourth, concluding the scoring for the night.

Verlander joined Jim Palmer (AL, 1977), Tom Glavine (NL, 1992) and Roger Clemens (NL, 2004) as the only starters to give up at least five runs in an All-Star Game.

The shutout was the first since the NL blanked the AL 6-0 in 1996. The lone common player in that game and this one was Chipper Jones, who had a single tonight in his final All-Star appearance.

While this one was a rout, the National Leaguers did all of their scoring in two frames. Besides Verlander, only the Rangers’ Matt Harrison got hit, giving up three runs in the fourth. A’s rookie Ryan Cook was particularly impressive, striking out two in an 11-pitch seventh inning.

Matt Cain pitched two scoreless innings after getting the call to start for the NL team. Only Clayton Kershaw, who gave up two hits and a walk (one of the hits coming on a ball left fielder Bryce Harper lost in the lights), had to pitch his way out of trouble.

No American Leaguer had multiple hits, but rookie Mike Trout singled and walked. He also became the first baserunner all year to steal a base off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Besides the two Giants, the NL’s third offensive star was Ryan Braun, who doubled and tripled. The NL team had three triples in all; one apiece from Braun, Sandoval and Rafael Furcal.

Adrian Gonzalez might retire after his contract is up if his back isn’t any better

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Despite dealing with back trouble for five years, Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers recently made his first ever trip to the disabled list. Then he made another trip there. All of it has him contemplating his future. As he tells Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, his baseball future may be a short one if his health doesn’t improve:

“I want to get back this year to help the team and for me to be healthy,” Gonzalez said. “But I’m thinking more long-term about being able to play more years.

“Because if I have to deal with this next year again? That’ll probably be it. My contract will be over, that’ll probably be it. I won’t play any more. If I can heal it and my body feels good? Now I can go out there and do the things I can do. Then I’ll keep playing.”

Backs are one of those things that don’t get better as you get older. At least not without a lot of work and effort and good luck. Gonzalez is 35 now, so he’ll need all of that to keep playing beyond his current deal.

The Cubs send Kyle Schwarber to the minors

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Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.

Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.

Now this:

The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.