84th MLB All-Star Game

The American League wins the 2013 All-Star Game 3-0

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source:  Another Midsummer Classic in the bag. Another scoresheet which looks like a train wreck, but that’s how the All-Star Game rolls. And the American League rolled to victory here at Citi Field, beating the National League 3 to 0.

As with most All-Star Games it was the small moments which were the most memorable. Here we had the Mets’ Matt Harvey, pitching in his home park, obviously carrying some extra adrenaline early. His velocity was high but his first couple of pitches shaky as he gave up a leadoff double to Mike Trout and then hit Robinson Cano on the right leg. Cano had to leave the game after taking first base and, thankfully, X-Rays came back negative — he has a contusion — but you don’t want to see that happen in an exhibition. Harvey calmed down after that and retired six in a row. A nice outing for the kid.

Beyond that, not many fireworks, as pitching and defense came to the fore.

The game remained scoreless until the top of the fourth when Miguel Cabrera doubled off Patrick Corbin, advanced to third on a Chris Davis single and scored on a Jose Bautista sac fly. The American League added another run in similar fashion in the fifth, this time with an Adam Jones double off Cliff Lee, a Joe Mauer single and a J.J. Hardy fielder’s choice. Not the most exciting way to score, but it was mixed in with a fan wearing a Robinson Cano shirsey running onto the field — he telegraphed it, quite stupidly, via his Twitter feed — and that’s kinda fun. Except for the fan, of course, who was slammed to the ground.

More zeros after that with Matt Moore, Jose Fernandez, Grant Balfour and Aroldis Chapman putting up zeroes through the the bottom of the fifth, all through the sixth and into the seventh-inning stretch. Then in the bottom of the seventh Jim Leyland decided to get some more relievers in the game, going through Greg Holland, Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar. They combined for yet another zero, aided by a slicker than slick play by Manny Machado on a hard Paul Goldschmidt ball to third. Machado looked like Brooks Robinson.

source:  The AL added an insurance run in the eighth off of Craig Kimbrel. The sequence: a Salvador Perez single, Jhonny Peralta single and then, after Torii Hunter grounded into a double play, Jason Kipnis doubled to left scoring Perez. That set the stage for Mariano Rivera, who came in an inning earlier than expected, covering the bottom of the eighth. He entered to a nice tribute from the assembled All-Stars — they left the field empty for him as he took the mound, giving him a standing ovation — and ended it by retiring the National League in order, throwing 16 cutters, in his final All-Star appearance.

Everyone involved was getting punchy by the top of the ninth inning, but Prince Fielder woke us up with a leadoff triple of Jason Grilli. Prince Fielder. The big man. And he moved like nobody’s business, letting out a yell as he slid head-first into the third base bag. I love to watch that guy run. He must have been tired, though, as he remained stranded on third despite a couple of infield outs that may have scored a less tired man.

Joe Nathan came on in the ninth, struck out the first two batters he faced before surrendering a double to Goldschmidt. Nathan bore down, however, and induced a pop fly by Pedro Alvarez to end the ballgame.

Chris Sale got the win, Corbin got the loss, Nathan got the save and the American League has home field advantage in the 2013 World Series. Mo Rivera was named MVP and awarded a new Corvette.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.