There’s been a lot of hostility directed Tony La Russa’s way for all of the NL All-Star snubs this week. Really, though, it’s the fans as a whole that made things more difficult than they needed to be by voting Dan Uggla, Rafael Furcal and Pablo Sandoval into the starting lineup.
The Braves tonight dropped the slumping Uggla down to the seventh spot in their lineup. He hit .160 in June and is off to a 1-for-16 start in July. Overall, he’s at .225/.355/.394 for the season.
In defense of the fans, Uggla probably was the NL’s most productive second baseman through the first two months of the season, and many ballots were cast in May. However, even though Uggla was outhitting Brandon Phillips and Aaron Hill, he was still a worse player overall after factoring in defense and baserunning.
The move to drop Uggla to the seventh spot comes nearly a year to the day after he broke out of his career-worst slump. Uggla was hitting .173 on July 4 last season. On July 5, he went 2-for-2 with a homer in kicking off a 33-game hitting streak.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.