All-Star managers Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost have chosen their starting pitchers, with right-hander Zack Greinke of the Dodgers getting the assignment for the National League and left-hander Dallas Keuchel of the Astros being the pick for the American League.
Greinke’s excellence is well known. He’s a three-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner who currently has a 35.2-inning scoreless streak and an MLB-best 1.39 ERA that’s the lowest by any starting pitcher at the All-Star break since 1968.
The other starting pitchers on the NL roster are Madison Bumgarner, A.J. Burnett, Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Martinez, Clayton Kershaw, Shelby Miller, Max Scherzer, and Michael Wacha.
Keuchel is a great story. He was never considered a top prospect, had a losing record with a 3.74 ERA in the minors, and went 9-18 with a 5.20 ERA for the Astros in 2012 and 2013. Then last season he took a huge step forward, throwing 200 innings with a 2.93 ERA, and Keuchel has been even better this season with an 11-4 record and 2.23 ERA in a league-high 137 innings.
The other starting pitchers on the AL roster are Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, Felix Hernandez, David Price, Chris Sale, and Hector Santiago.
Last year’s All-Star starters were Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals for the National League and Felix Hernandez of the Mariners for the American League.
Sonny Gray turned in another masterpiece on Sunday, tossing a two-hit shutout against the Indians. With the effort, he lowered his AL-leading ERA to 2.04 with a 0.96 WHIP and a 108/30 K/BB ratio in 123 2/3 innings.
One problem: because he pitched today, Gray won’t be available to pitch in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Cincinnati. As a result, Angels starter Hector Santiago has been added to the roster to replace Gray, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
Santiago, 27, has quietly put up a 2.33 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP and a 98/34 K/BB ratio in 108 1/3 innings.
Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN in Seattle was first to break the news a little while ago:
Yes, that would be former top prospect Jesus Montero. Remember him? After losing 40 pounds over the winter, the 25-year-old was batting .332/.370/.529 with 15 home runs and 68 RBI over 84 games this season with Triple-A Tacoma while leading the Pacific Coast League in a bunch of major offensive categories.
It’s unclear where Montero will fit on the roster. The Mariners finally gave up on him as a catcher in 2013, so he’s been splitting his time between first base and DH this season. Putting him in the lineup would likely push Nelson Cruz to the outfield, at least on a short-term basis. The Mariners are set to face three left-handed starters (Hector Santiago, C.J. Wilson, and Andrew Heaney) this weekend, which likely played into the timing of the move.
Things haven’t worked out for Montero since he came over in the Michael Pineda deal and it looked like the Mariners were ready to give up on him altogether at one point. Most of that was because of his own doing. But he has worked himself back into good shape and earned another opportunity. Let’s see if he can take advantage of it.
The best fireworks on July 4 came from the Angels.
Anaheim’s offense combined for five doubles, two homers, and 15 total hits Saturday in a 13-0 rout of the host Rangers. The only position player who didn’t manage a hit was a Mike Trout, though he did draw a walk in the top of the second inning and score a run after a hit-by-pitch in the top of the sixth.
Angels left-hander Hector Santiago cruised over seven innings, yielding just three hits and a walk to lower his already-shiny season ERA to 2.40.
Anaheim will be chasing a sweep Sunday night in Arlington, Texas. The club is four games back of the American League West-leading Astros.
Your box scores and AP recaps from Saturday’s slate …
Giants 3, Nationals 9
Rays 2, Yankees 3
Blue Jays 3, Tigers 8
Astros 1, Red Sox 6
Orioles 2, White Sox 3
Padres 1, Cardinals 2
Mariners 0, Athletics 2
Indians 0, Pirates 1
Twins 5, Royals 3
Phillies 5, Braves 9
Marlins 2, Cubs 7
Brewers 7, Reds 3
Mets 3, Dodgers 4
Angels 13, Rangers 0
Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 7
I often look down my nose at autograph hounds, as a good many of them tend to be grown men who deal in autographs professionally. Plus, they’re sad. You see them hanging out outside of hotels and near player entrances to ballparks, their backpacks bulging, talking to one another about whether the guy coming around the corner is Sanchez or Gonzalez, Smith or Jones. They often don’t know themselves. It’s so divorced from fandom and memory-making that calling the product of their endeavors “memorabilia” borders on false advertising.
But not all autograph seekers fit this description. Kids are an exception, of course, and I have no problem with kids shoving a ball and a Sharpie in the face of a ballplayer. They’ll remember that stuff their entire lives.
Another exception? Ballplayers themselves. Like Hector Santiago, who Pedro Moura of the OC Register reports, has a MASSIVE autograph collection. Hall of Famers and current players. Big stars and some not so big. Mostly on jerseys. And he’s not at all shy about asking for them.
His motivation: a love and appreciation of baseball history and a seeming acknowledgement that he won’t be young and active forever and, one day, he’s going to want to have memories of his time around the game.
Such a nice story about a guy who really loves baseball. Which, as Santiago himself says in the story, isn’t necessarily the norm among major leaguers. Go check the story out.