CINCINNATI — It’s not dark yet for the National League, but it’s getting there.
Brian Dozier, pinch-hitting for Jason Kipnis against Pirates reliever Mark Melancon, homered to denter field on the fourth pitch he saw. That made it 6-2, A.L.
Reminder: though some men named Altuve and Kipnis may take issue with this, there are some in the world who think that Brian Dozier is the best second baseman in baseball right now. Not sure I buy that, but on this night he gave the A.L. some breathing room and continued his torrid July.
CINCINNATI — The NL got a dominating new pitcher in the top of the sixth and began to claw back in the bottom half.
In the top of the sixth Jacob deGrom took over and, unlike Clayton Kershaw, had NO PROBLEM whatsoever. He was throwing straight nasty gas, striking out Steven Vogt on three pitches, Jason Kipnis on four pitches and Jose Iglesias on three. It was . . . impressive, to say the least.
Andrew McCutchen led off the bottom of the sixth and, on the first pitch from Chris Archer, launched a long homer to left field, bringing it to 3-2, National League. Archer was allowed to pitch to one more batter, retiring Todd Frazier, after which he was pulled for Zach Britton. Britton struck out Bryce Harper for out number two but then struggled a bit to close out the inning, allowing Paul Goldschmidt to reach when he fielded a ball and misfired, pulling Mark Texieria off the bag. Then Yadier Molina singled. Britton escaped, however, getting Troy Tulowitzki on a 4-6 grounder.
It’s the time of the game where the American League is out of its marquee pitchers and into its relatively anonymous relievers which Ned Yost chose, presumably to make this more like a real game. We’ll soon see if that pays off and if the AL can hold on.
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier is now officially an All-Star, as he’s replacing injured Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, MLB has announced.
Dozier’s initial omission from the American League All-Star roster caused some consternation, as he’s been at least the second-best second baseman in the league (behind Jason Kipnis) and arguably the best depending on which metrics strike your fancy. He has 19 home runs, 49 RBI, nine stolen bases, and a .259/.331/.521 triple-slash line.
Bautista has been nursing a shoulder injury since the end of May. To his credit, he has mostly been a productive bat in the Blue Jays’ lineup, currently hitting .239/.385/.496 with 17 home runs and 59 RBI. But he’s hitting a meager .158/.319/.316 in 72 plate appearances dating back to June 23. Rather than risk exacerbating the condition, Bautista will use the few days off afforded by the All-Star break to rest and receive treatment for his shoulder.