2015 All-Star Game Preview

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CINCINNATI — All of the parties, the Derbys the parades and the baloney is out of the way. Now it’s time for the actual All-Star Game.

Well, not quite yet. This evening there will still be a lot of . . . stuff. Pete Rose will make an appearance on the field here at Great American Ballpark, and I predict his ovation will be louder than even that given to Todd Frazier last night.

Also, the four “Greatest Living Ballplayers” and the “Franchise Four” of each team — all of which were voted on by fans — will be announced prior to the game. One of those Greatest Living Ballplayers is set to throw out the first pitch. That should create some controversy and argument fodder over the next couple of baseball-free days.

The U.S. Navy will conduct a flyover featuring four FA-18 Super Hornets. They practiced here yesterday. They’re loud. Not quite as loud, but definitely amplified will be Ciara, who will sing the U.S. National Anthem and Leo Welsh who will perform the Canadian Anthem. Country singer Josh Turner will sing “God Bless America.”

But then there is a game. Here’s what you need to know:

First Pitch: 8:15PM
Channel: FOX

American League Lineup

1. Mike Trout, CF, Angels
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
3. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
4. Nelson Cruz, DH, Mariners
5. Lorenzo Cain, RF, Royals
6. Adam Jones, LF, Orioles
7. Salvador Perez, C, Royals
8. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
9. Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals
Dallas Keuchel, SP, Astros

Notes: Quite a familiar AL group. Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, Sal Perez, Mike Trout and Adam Jones all started last year, and many of them are on their third or fourth go-around. Missing is Alex Gordon and there is also no Miguel Cabrera due to injuries. Chris Sale may only be available in an emergency. Sonny Gray is unavailable due to pitching on Sunday.

National League Lineup

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pirates
2. Todd Frazier, 3B, Reds
3. Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
5. Buster Posey, C, Giants
6. Anthony Rizzo, DH, Cubs
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cardinals
8. Joc Pederson, LF, Dodgers
9. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Rockies
Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers

Notes: Joc Pederson is filling in for the injured Matt Holliday. No Giancarlo Stanton or Dee Gordon for the same reasons. Max Scherzer pitched on Sunday or else you figure he’d get the start. Otherwise it’s McCutchen and Goldschmidt and a lot of guys who haven’t been here much. At least as starters. There’s a lot of experience here from guys who were reserves in the past.

  • All of the reserves and pitchers — plus and minus a few substitutions — can be seen here.

As for a prediction? Well, these things are total crapshoots. I think Ned Yost constructed a more real life roster with middle relievers and utility guys in places, whereas Bruce Bochy has more starters and veterans. But if that is an advantage to Yost, it’s probably made up for by the fact that Bochy is the better manager.

Ultimately, however, this is the most unpredictable game played all year because it’s almost entirely not a game as we tend to understand baseball. But hey, at least it doesn’t count for anything important, right?

Oh, wait. It does. Something that has, historically, mattered a whole lot. As in,since 1985, the team with home-field advantage has won 23 of 29 World Series. And until the Giants beat the Royals on the road in Game Seven last year, the home team had won nine straight World Series Game Sevens.

Play ball?

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 13, Orioles 8: Leonys Martin hit a grand slam out of the leadoff spot and the two-slot hitter, Jeimer Candelario, drove in three via a two-run homer and an RBI single. They play for the Tigers, by the way. Figure a lot of you were not aware of that. Heck, outside of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos, figure most of us don’t know most of the guys on the Tigers anymore. You do know that Manny Machado plays for the Orioles. Know that he hit two homers in a losing cause. Know that, given how the Orioles are doing these days, he won’t be with the Orioles too much longer, I reckon.

Cubs 8, Cardinals 5: Chicago built an early 6-1 lead on a bunch of singles and sac flies and stuff and Jason Heyward capped the Cubs scoring with a two-run homer in the fifth. Jon Lester allowed only an unearned run over six. Every Cubs starter had at least one hit. Anthony Rizzo had three. Heyward, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez had two a piece. After the game Joe Maddon said:

“This is so much fun to watch. Keep your launch angles, keep your exit velocities, give me a good at-bat. Seeing inside the ball, using the whole field. With that you’ll see better situational hitting, better batting average. That’s just good hitting.”

Without looking, I’m going to guess that the Cubs’ eight-run outburst was, at least in part, a function of good launch angles and exit velocities. Not that Maddon would be the first person to engage in the fallacy of assuming mutual exclusivity where it does not exist.

Astros 9, Mariners 2: Charlie Morton tossed seven shutout innings, dropping his ERA down to 0.72 in his three wins. He has also struck out 33 guys in 25 innings and has walked only six. At this rate he’s going to be in a three-way race with two of his teammates — Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander — for the Cy Young. Seattle dropped three of four in the series and, as a team, went 15-for-100 against Dallas KeuchelLance McCullers Jr., Cole and Morton.

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3: Aaron Judge homered and, while the Jays threatened late when David Robertson couldn’t find the strike zone and loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, but he got out of the jam with only one run scoring. Judge — who a lot of you wise acres thought would struggle this year now that everyone is ready for him — is hitting .339/.481/.629 and is on a 48-homer, 152-walk pace. So, yeah.

Phillies 7, Pirates 0: OK, I think Jake Arrieta has finally finished his late spring training. Here he tossed seven shutout innings, allowing only one hit and striking out ten. Rhys Hoskins homered, Odubel Herrera singled in runs in the second and the fifth, J.P. Crawford and Cesar Hernandez knocked in runs on singles as well. More importantly, look at the photo on the top of this post and acknowledge how spiffy Philly looked in these blues. Their only fault is that teams that do this should, like the White Sox the other day, wear the blues on the road as originally intended.

Braves 12, Mets 4: Matt Wisler was called up from Triple-A to make a spot start. Guessing he’s going to get a bit more than that after allowing only two hits in seven innings. Matt Harvey, meanwhile, allowed six runs in six innings and after the game Mickey Calloway would not commit to him making his next scheduled start. He’s just not the guy he used to be. Preston Tucker drove in five with a bases loaded double and a two-run double. Kurt Suzuki had three hits and drove in three runs, including a two-run homer. The Braves offense leads the NL in runs scored. We were all expecting that heading into the season, yes?

Brewers 12, Marlins 3: It was close until the sixth, when Milwaukee put up a seven-spot. Lorenzo Cain homered, doubled twice and scored four times and Ryan Braun hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer. Those three runs gave him 1,000 RBI on his career. Lewis Brinson — who came over to the Marlins from the Brewers in the offseason trade for Christian Yelich — hit his first two career homers.

Diamondbacks 3, Giants 1: Zack Greinke held the punchless Giants to one run over seven innings, with a Brandon Belt homer being his only blemish. The Snakes got homers from Ketel Marte and A.J. Pollock. The Giants have scored only 51 runs in 18 games. That’s the lowest run total in baseball, tied with the Royals, who have only played 16 games. It ain’t 2014 anymore, is it?

Red Sox 8, Angels 2: And the Red Sox never lost again. Homers from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. Eight runs on 14 hits against six pitchers. A fine outing from Eduardo Rodriguez. Seven wins in a row and, heck, even though it covers the whole season, 16 of 18 for Boston.