“You love me! You really love me!”
Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and Steve Delabar of the Toronto Blue Jays were chosen by fans as the winners of the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote.
I gotta say, I’m rather shocked at the NL result. I woulda thought that Yasiel PuigMania would have carried the day. And that if it didn’t, someone at Major League Baseball would turn this into some Soviet-era election in which the glorious voice of the proletariat cried out for Puig to win despite the longest of odds or something. Guess not.
Not that we should take too much from this. The voting procedures for this were even more gonzo than the regular All-Star voting, with Twitter hashtags counting as votes in the final hours before the polls closed. That, combined with open campaigning made this something less than a scientific referendum.
But it may be a broad referendum on what people want the All-Star Game to be. I feel like a Puig vote is a vote for the All-Star Game as spectacle and excitement and what people may want to see, regardless of some measure of merit. I feel like a Freeman vote is one in which people look at overall value (and Freeman, having played all year has added more aggregate value to the Braves than Puig has to the Dodgers) and decided to reward a greater body of work over a big splash. Maybe this voting is even too silly to determine that. I don’t know.
But I do know that, barring Puig as an injury replacement in the days leading up to the All-Star game, he’s going to be sitting at home and watching on TV. And Jonathan Papelbon will be happy.
As for Delabar: relief pitcher beats out other relief pitchers and it’s hard for me to work up much emotion of any kind about that. But at least this relief pitcher has a great story, so that’s nice.
Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.
With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.
The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.
Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.
It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.