What debate? Of course Strasburg belongs in the All-Star Game

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Lots of people have spent a lot of time in the past few days debating whether or not Stephen Strasburg should be on the All-Star team.  I’m having a hard time getting my brain around the “no” side of the debate.

The way I see it, the All-Star Game is either (a) a pitched competition of the best players in the game that determines home field advantage in the World Series; or (b) it’s an exhibition designed to showcase the stars and thrill the fans who get to see all of baseball’s brightest lights on one stage on one night.  No matter which of those philosophies you subscribe to, Strasburg belongs, does he not?

For those who believe that the teams absolutely need to play to win, can anyone honestly tell me that there are 13 pitchers National League partisans would rather have throw one or two innings?  Ubaldo, Halladay, Josh Johnson, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Mike Pelfrey, and a handful of relievers have an argument, I guess, but if you don’t put Strasburg in your top 13 most dominant NL pitchers this year, you’re crazy. Put differently, if I needed to pick one dude to strike someone out in order to save my children, I’d pick Strasburg for the job and so would you, and that has to count for something.

Likewise, if you believe the All-Star Game to be a mere exhibition, how can you deny him? What is more worthy of exhibition than Strasburg’s array of pitches? He has spurred ticket sales and TV ratings all year. He’s made guys on other teams drop what they’re doing in the clubhouse just to watch him pitch. I can’t imagine a single player in the National League who has generated more interest than Strasburg has this year. He’s practically designed to be at the center of a three-ring circus.

So what’s the cogent argument against his inclusion? That he hasn’t been up all season? Like that’s his fault? Even if you care about that — which I really don’t — I think he’s done enough in five starts alone to qualify for the “he had a great first half” argument, don’t you?

Besides: the Nats have to have someone in the game. Who you gonna send in his place? Matt Capps?

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 3, Rays 0: This was a big game for the Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka came up big, shutting out the Rays on two hits while striking out ten in a complete game performance. D.J. LeMahieu hit a two-run homer and Cameron Maybin had a solo shot. With the win the Yankees up their lead in the AL East to a game and a half.

Angels 10, Blue Jays 5: The Halos put up a seven spot in the second thanks to homers from solo homers from Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun, a three-run homer from Shohei Ohtani and a two-run double from Mike Trout. Trout would add a solo shot of his own in the sixth and got four hits on the day. Cavan Biggio went deep twice for the Jays but one man can’t do it alone. Well, he wasn’t totally alone as Randal Grichuk hit a two-run shot but two men can’t do it alone either, especially when their friends on the pitching staff took the day off.

Reds 3, Astros 2: Luis Castillo allowed two over six — he actually worked into the seventh, allowing only two hits, but walking six — and he was backed by RBI singles from Nick Senzel and Eugenio Suárez. This one featured a nearly one-hour rain delay that gave us this vision of rainbow and lightning:

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Braves 12, Mets 3: Brian McCann, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr. all went deep as the Braves win in a laugher. McCann has been hotter than a two dollar pistol lately, having gone 8-for-16 with four homers and nine driven in in the past week. Albies went 3-for-4 and knocked in four. The Braves have won 10 of 11 and have scored 90 runs in that stretch. That kind of outburst makes it easy for starters like Mike Soroka, who won his eighth straight decision.

Rangers 7, Indians 2: Mike Clevinger came back from the injured list and the Rangers treated him quite rudely, scoring five runs in less than five innings. Danny Santana hit a two-run homer. Meanwhile, his counterpart Lance Lynn allowed one run over seven innings, striking out nine and not walking a batter.

Red Sox 2, Twins 0: Home runs come in buckets these days but we had a good old pitchers duel in Minneapolis last night, with Rick Porcello (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 8K) outdueling José Berrios (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 10 K). A J.D. Martinez RBI single in the first was all the scoring this one saw until the Sox added an insurance run on a Xander Bogaerts RBI double in the ninth. Boston runs its season-high win streak to six straight.

Cardinals 5, Marlins 0: Miles Mikolas and three relievers combine for an eight-hit shutout while Dexter Fowler hit a three-run homer and Matt Carpenter had a solo shot and scored on an error. Mikolas had lost five straight decisions before this one. Miami has been shut out 13 times this year.

Giants 3, Dodgers 2: Tyler Beede held he mighty Dodgers lineup to one run over six despite walking five guys, picking up his first big league win in his seventh big league start. An early Bandon Crawford two-run double and an unearned run in the sixth was all the scoring the Giants needed.

Athletics 3, Orioles 2: Mike Fiers allowed two, both unearned, in six innings of work. The A’s scored two unearned runs themselves, both on the same play. The only earned run in the game came via a first inning double from Matt Olson. The best defense on the day came from this couple in the stands who got two foul balls and didn’t even have to get out of their seats to get ’em:

No one scored after the third inning here. It’s like one of those days when you go into work and finish off some report or something before 9:30 and then spend the rest of the day screwing around on the Internet. Or, as I like to call it “every day at work for me in 2008.”

Padres 2, Brewers 0: All kinds of nice pitching performances last night, including this one from Joey Lucchesi, in which he tossed seven shutout innings, making a run on a wild pitch and a Manny Machado solo homer hold up. The Brewers were shut out on four hits.

Royals 6, Mariners 4: Jorge Soler hit a two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning to bring the Royals back from a 4-3 deficit and Martin Maldonado hit a ninth inning solo shot for some insurance. Soler somehow has 19 dingers on the season. He’s got ’em pretty quietly, but then again I suppose everything that happens with the Royals happens pretty quietly these days.

Phillies vs. Nationals — POSTPONED:

I stood out in the rain
Holding my breath
Waiting for you
You never came
You broke my heart
You broke my heart
I know who’s to blame
You’re to blame

And I don’t care about you
If you don’t care about me
We can go our separate ways
If you want to
The ties of love are strong
But they can be undone
And we’ll go our separate ways
If you want to