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.

Odubel Herrera flips his bat on a fly ball, gets benched for lack of hustle

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Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has been a polarizing figure in his young career. He’s talented and at times has shined, inspiring the Phillies to give him a long term contract this past offseason. At other times, however, he’s aggravated the snot out of his manager, his teammates and his team’s fans. Last night, in the Phillies-Astros game, he did the latter and was the subject of mockery of the opposing team to boot.

In the first inning he hit a long fly ball to center. He thought it was going out but . . . it didn’t. When the ball came off of his bat, however, he flipped his bat like he went yard. You know our view about bat flips — who cares? Flip away! — but you flip at your own risk. Just because you’re allowed to flip it whenever you want doesn’t mean you’re not gonna get mocked if you flip prematurely. That’s what Herrera did, and he was mocked for the flip by the Astros from the dugout:

If that was all that happened in the game, life would go on just fine. I mean, it’s just a bat flip. But later in the game he committed a more substantive transgression: he failed to hustle in a hustle situation.

In the sixth inning Herrera struck out swinging on a 1-2 curveball. The catcher didn’t hold on to it, though, and the ball went in the dirt. Herrera didn’t bother to run to first base and Pete Mackanin pulled Herrera from the game in a double switch right after that. Asked if Herrera was benched for not running that ball out, Mackanin said “It had something to do with it . . . I’m going to talk to him tomorrow.”

If you’re a veteran and you have hamstring issues or something you can take a dropped strike three off and no one is gonna say anything. If you’re hitting like Herrera has been hitting of late (i.e. pretty well) and you otherwise have no issues with your manager along these lines, it’s doubtful anyone will hold that sort of play against you either as long as it’s an isolated incident.

Herrera is not in that position, however. He’s raised Mackanin’s ire in the past for ignoring signs and taking what Mackanin believed to be a lackadaisical approach to the game. Whether that’s a fair assessment of Herrera or not — we can’t fully know everything about their interaction from the outside — is sort of beside the point. He has to know by now that Mackanin is going to get after him for that stuff and he has to know that him not being in the game is neither good for the Phillies or for Herrera.

Are these growing pains or a signs of a growing problem? That, it would seem, is up to Odubel Herrera.

Video: Minor leaguer bounces a home run off of an outfielder’s head

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Jose Canseco hit 462 homers, was the 1986 Rookie of the Year, the 1988 MVP and played for 17 years in the big leagues, winning two World Series rings and making the playoffs five times. Yet he’s not remembered for any of that. At least not very often.

No, he’s remembered for his ignominy. For his role in participating in and, subsequently, exposing baseball’s PED-fueled world of the 1990s. For his continued insistence that he was blackballed by Major League Baseball and his continued attempts to play via the independent league route. For his crazy post-playing career antics in which he spent a few years tweeting about aliens, conspiracy theories and non-sequiturs of every stripe.

Mostly, though, people remember Canseco for one random play: the time he helped the Indians’ Carlos Martinez to a home run when a fly ball bounced off of Canseco’s head and over the wall back in 1993:

 

Well, Canseco now has a friend in infamy. That friend: Zach Borenstein of the Reno Aces, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. Yesterday Borenstein pulled a Canseco on what should’ve been an Alex Verdugo F-9:

Borenstein’s glove may have gotten a piece of that — the announcer seemed to think so anyway — and I have a hard time figuring that his head would give it that much bounce. I mean, look how far he was from the wall! He wasn’t even to the warning track. That’s a serious assist.

Still: gonna rule this a Canseco anyway. It’s too good not to.