Six Pack of Observations: 2009 All-Star Game

The American League was once again victorious over the National League in the Midsummer Classic, as the AL topped the NL 4-3 to run its unbeaten streak in the All-Star Game to 13. Below are six quick-hit observations from the game.

1. Carl Crawford is a bad man.
How many times when you were growing up did you go in the backyard by yourself, stand up against a fence and practice robbing home runs? Crawford’s highway robbery of Brad Hawpe in the seventh to preserve the 3-3 tie was the play of the game. The way he sprinted to the wall and timed his jump to make the catch was flat out sweet.

2. The National League will never win another All-Star Game…again.
Or so it seems. It’s not like the NL is getting blown out, but 13 straight years without a win? How does that happen? It’s not like the NL was devoid of talent with names like Pujols, Fielder and Lincecum gracing its roster. But the league can just never get over the hump and the AL’s dominance over the past 13 years has been impressive.

3. Tim Lincecum was incredibly nervous.
Or too hyped up, either way, you didn’t see the best he had to offer tonight. You could tell the excitement of the game got to him, because most of his pitchers were missing high and he had no command of his changeup, which is usually un-hittable. I don’t blame the young man (pitching in his first ASG) for being a little wound up, but I was excited for Lincecum to show the nation what kind of talent he has and it just wasn’t in the cards.

4. Great piece of hitting by Fielder, Mauer and Jones.
You know what the difference is between All-Stars and your run-of-the-mill major leaguers? They can go opp-o. Prince Fielder, Joe Mauer and Adam Jones all displayed great opposite field hitting tonight and that’s a skill often overlooked in the baseball world these days.

5. Mariano Rivera has still got it.
Watching this guy pitch over the past decade has been an absolute treat. It’s amazing – even after all of these years, when he comes into a game you know it’s essentially over. Although I will say this, I would have loved to have seen Ryan Franklin get an opportunity to save the game in the 9th with the NL leading because he has been flat out un-hittable this season. If you blinked at all in the third inning, you probably missed Franklin’s ASG outing, because that’s how quick he ran through the AL hitting.

6. Nice AB, Jayson Werth.
After Werth struck out to end the seventh inning, somewhere Matt Kemp and Pablo Sandoval said to themselves, “Hell, I could have done that.” It’s incredibly unfair to hammer Werth for striking out against Jonathan Papelbon because after all, many have struck out against the Boston closer. But Werth didn’t make his manager Charlie Manuel look too good with that AB, seeing as how the Philadelphia skipper chose his own guy over the equally deserving Kemp and Sandoval.

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Longoria won’t play in All-Star Game

According to a report by the Tampa Tribune, Rays’ third baseman Evan Longoria will miss Tuesday night’s All-Star Game due to an infection on his right ring finger. Rangers’ third baseman Michael Young will start in his place and Angels’ infielder Chone Figgins will replace Longoria on the roster.

Longoria’s injury is not believed to be serious and he should be back when Tampa resumes action on Friday, but I always hate it when a young player misses the All-Star Game because of an injury. Longoria should have plenty of more ASGs in his future, but he played well in the first half (although he is in the midst of a bad slump) and deserved to play this year.

The same can be said for Giants’ starter Matt Cain, who injured his right elbow on his throwing arm in game against the Padres last Saturday. Cain is finally getting recognized as one of the better young pitchers in the league this year thanks to some long overdue run support, but now he won’t even get the opportunity to pitch in his first ASG.

But Longoria’s injury opens the door for Young – an underrated player having a solid season for Texas this season – to start in the Midsummer Classic. And Figgins has been great for very good for the Halos this season as well, batting .310 with 68 runs scored and 27 stolen bases.

Lincecum, Halladay to start in All-Star Game

Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum will oppose Blue Jays’ starter Roy Halladay in tomorrow night’s All-Star Game from St. Louis. Lincecum is 10-2 at the break with a 2.33 ERA, while the “Doc” is 10-3 wit a 2.85 ERA.

Albert Pujols will bat third for the NL behind Marlins’ shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who will bat leadoff, and Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley, who will be in the two-hole. Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun will bat cleanup for the NL and be followed by Raul Ibanez (Phillies, left field), David Wright (Mets, third base), Shane Victorino (Phillies, centerfield) and Yadier Molina (Cardinals, catcher).

The AL will have M’s right fielder Ichiro Suzuki leading off, followed by Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter and Twins’ catcher Joe Mauer. Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira will bat cleanup, followed by Jason Bay (Red Sox, left field), Josh Hamilton (Rangers, centerfield), Evan Longoria (Rays, third base) and Aaron Hill (Blue Jays, second base).

No word yet on when Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval will get in………….they didn’t get in? Jayson Werth? Jayson Werth?!

Just kidding – Werth deserved to go. By no means did he and his .260 batting average get in only because Charlie Manuel is managing the NL.

Again, just kidding. I know Werth has already popped 20 dingers and has driven in 56 runs this year. His numbers have been great both at home at that little league field Philadelphia calls a stadium, and on the road. I just hope for Manuel’s sake that Werth contributes, because Kemp and Sandoval have been freaking outstanding this year and deserved that final spot (the one that opened because of Carlos Beltran’s injury) as much as Werth did.

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