Your American League All-Star vote leaders

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2010 All-Star Game.JPGIt’s early yet, but if the All-Star voting ended today, the nine starting position players in the AL
would be
:

C: Joe Mauer
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Robinson Cano
SS: Derek Jeter
3B: Evan
Longoria
OF: Ichiro Suzuki, Carl Crawford, Nelson Cruz
DH: Vladimir
Guerrero.

There have been worse voting results in history, but this one is far from perfect. Mauer, Longoria and Guerrero are obvious choices at their position thus far. Otherwise:

  • Teixeira is an awful choice — Justin Morneau is destroying baseballs this year.
  • Cano is probably the best choice at second, but Ty Wigginton is pretty close.
  • No one is having a fabulous season at short in the AL, but Jeter isn’t having the best either. I’d go with Elvis Andrus I suppose, or maybe Alex Gonzalez, depending on how you feel about contact vs. power vs. glove dynamics;
  • In the outfield the Nelson Cruz choice is a good one even with his limited playing time. I understand the Crawford and Suzuki picks, but [gulp] Vernon Wells and Alexis Rios are having great seasons so far, as are Shin-Soo Choo, Magglio Ordonez, and Nick Swisher.
  • DH is the right choice, but check out the vote getters directly behind Vlad: Matsui, Griffey, Pat Burrell and Big Papi.  Is this a reflection on the state of the DH in baseball, or a harsh comment on the state of fandom?  You be the judge.

And for the record, I’ll be updating this kind of thing throughout the early summer — NL vote leaders tomorrow — and when I do I’ll likely be critical of the vote totals. However, I realize that this is a fan’s vote and that the All-Star Game is a fan’s game.

It’s my personal preference that those who are playing best in the first half get honored, but I know that I don’t have a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to this subject. And ultimately? The All-Star Game has become something of a blah event anyway, so who cares?  More on that as the summer wears on as well.

Brewers hold off the Dodgers to force Game 7 of the NLCS

Brewers
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Down 3-2 in the NLCS, the Brewers faced a must-win situation during Game 6 on Friday. Any residual uncertainty they might have felt about their chances of extending the series was all but resolved in the first inning, however, when Jesús Aguilar, Mike Moustakas, and Erik Kratz combined for a four-run spread to take an early lead. Powered by those early-game RBI, as well as masterful performances from Wade Miley, Corey Knebel, and Corbin Burnes, the club surged to a 7-2 win to pull even with the Dodgers and force a Game 7 tiebreaker.

Left-hander Wade Miley trounced the Dodgers in 4 1/3 innings of two-run, four-strikeout ball. He was bested by David Freese in the very first at-bat of the night, which culminated with a 402-footer to right field to put Los Angeles on the board, 1-0. After a few scoreless innings from the Dodgers, Freese returned to torment Miley in the top of the fifth, this time with an RBI double that narrowed the Brewers’ advantage from four runs to three.

Things didn’t go nearly as smoothly for opposing lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. In the bottom of the first inning, Ryu allowed a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain, followed by a four-pitch walk to Ryan Braun. Jesús Aguilar came up to bat with two out and two on, then smacked a two-RBI line drive double to right field. Moustakas and Kratz went back-to-back-to-back with Aguilar, putting up another three runs on an RBI double and single, respectively.

The Brewers kept rolling in the second inning. Christian Yelich and Braun each collected a double off of Ryu, bringing Milwaukee’s lead to 5-1 over Los Angeles. Braun advanced to third on a Travis Shaw groundout, but with Aguilar up to bat, Ryu wasn’t going to chance a repeat of the Dodgers’ first-inning debacle. He intentionally walked Aguilar, then whiffed Moustakas on three straight fastballs to cap the inning.

By the time both Miley and Ryu were forced from the mound, the Brewers stood 5-2 above their opponents. Right-hander Corey Knebel worked a scoreless 1 2/3 innings, striking out Manny Machado to eliminate another potential rally from the Dodgers in the fifth inning and retiring all four batters in the sixth (save for Joc Pederson, who reached base after taking a 96.3-MPH fastball to the wrist). The righty received another significant opportunity to do some damage against the Dodgers in the bottom of the fifth, when he came up to bat for the first time in his professional career with the bases loaded and two outs… but saw just four pitches before swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

After Ryu’s unexpected departure in the third, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts cycled through five pitchers — Julio Urías, Alex Wood, Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, and Kenta Maeda — in an attempt to squelch the Brewers’ comeback. The bullpen combined for four consecutive scoreless frames, but was ultimately foiled in the seventh, when, with runners on second and third and two outs, a wild pitch from Maeda ricocheted off the front of home plate and allowed Aguilar to plate yet another insurance run. Still not content with a two-hit, two-RBI performance, Aguilar came back in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single — only moments after a failed double play that would have ended the inning — to bring the Brewers to a cushy 7-2 advantage as they entered the ninth.

No similar last-minute rallies awaited the Dodgers there. Rookie right-hander Corbin Burnes orchestrated another flawless 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, retiring Pederson and Puig with consecutive strikeouts and inducing a game-inning, series-extending pop-up from Matt Kemp to wrap the win.

Game 7 is set for 8:09 PM EDT on Saturday. The starters for both clubs have yet to be announced.