This isn’t Guys and Dolls, but if yesterday was an audition for All-Star pitchers to prove they’re worthy of starting next Tuesday in the Midsummer Classic, some passed with flying colors, while others just gave up big flys. And lots of them. Yesterday’s winners were Justin Verlander of the Tigers, Josh Beckett of the Red Sox and Jake Peavy of the Padres; while Brad Penny of the Dodgers and C.C. Sabathia of the Indians should have Leyland and LaRussa screaming “Next!” Verlander beat Sabathia head-to-head, going seven strong innings and striking out seven. Sabathia, on the other hand, was brutal, only lasting four innings and giving up three homers. Beckett dominated the D-Rays, but doesn’t everybody? Peavy, though, was a victim (again) of lack of run support, but still had a great outing going seven innings with 6 K. Penny, who has been the best pitcher in the National League, was a nightmare, lasting only four innings while giving up six runs in his worst outing of the year.
Maybe it’s the beer talking, but how pathetic is the NL Central? The Milwaukee Brewers were enjoying the most comfortable division lead outside of New England, but if they don’t improve their play on the road, they could be crying in their drinks come October. After losing three of four to the pathetic (if they improved) Pittsburgh Pirates, the Brewers road record stands at 18-24, worst of all the first place teams. Lucky for them, they’re 30-13 in the house of hops. It was a rough series for the Crew, as Ben Sheets and the staff couldn’t keep Adam LaRoche and Ryan Doumit in the yard. Those modern day Ruth and Gehrig clones combined for five HR and 10 RBI in the series. Even worse, star outfielder Billy Hall sprained his ankle trying to catch one of them. Hall is out indefinitely. Mmmmmmm….beer.
They like us! They really, really like us. As expected, starting pitcher Chris Young of the Padres and reliever Hideki Okajima of the Red Sox won the online voting for final roster spots on the All-Star team. Over the last few years, the race to be Mr. Irrelevant on the squad has taken on a life of its own. According to mlb.com, over 23 million votes were cast for ten players, with Young and Okajima winning with about 4.5 million each. Even more interesting is the campaigning that goes on for a guy who might not even get into the game. Brandon Webb’s hometown of Ashland, KY held “Vote for Brandon Webb” day and in Pittsburgh, the Pirates set up laptops in the PNC Park concourse so fans could cast an online ballot –or 25– for lefty Tom Gorzelanny. In the American league, Red Sox Nation proved again to be the most nerdy (and far reaching, as we’re sure all of Japan clicked on) as they voted a Sox player in for the third time in five years.
Player of the day: Mike Lowell, Red Sox 5 for 6, HR, 5 RBI, 3 R against the Devil Rays