All-Star Game starting pitcher (Loaiza, Mulholland, Penny, Nagy) isn’t always big name

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This year’s All-Star Game starting pitchers, Justin Verlander and Matt Cain, are certainly both big names with excellent track records, but it’s interesting to note that the honor of starting an All-Star Game doesn’t always go to elite pitchers.

Obviously any pitcher who starts an All-Star Game is by definition having an excellent season at the time–so please hold onto those angry comments and e-mails–but here’s a list of some All-Star Game starters during the past 20 years: Esteban Loaiza, Terry Mulholland, Brad Penny, Charles Nagy, Kenny Rogers, Derek Lowe, Ubaldo Jimenez.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Back in 2006 the game featured a scintillating Kenny Rogers-Brad Penny matchup and following Roger Clemens’ start in 2001 the American League had a five-year run in which they started Derek Lowe, Esteban Loaiza, Mark Buehrle, Mark Mulder, and Kenny Rogers.

Verlander-Cain is pretty damn good.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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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.