Wednesday, July 13, 2016

AL Takes The Win And Home Field Advantage

GAME RECAP: Stanton Tops Frazier 20-13

A festive Tuesday night in San Diego's East Village quickly became a Royal affair, as Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez powered the American League to a 4-2 victory in the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. Hosmer and Perez both homered in a three-run second inning, sending Red Sox icon David Ortiz off with a victory in his final All-Star Game. Hosmer tacked on an RBI single an inning later and became the first Royal since Bo Jackson in 1989 to take home MVP honors. "This whole week, this whole San Diego All-Star Game has been unbelievable," Hosmer said. "It's a dream come true, and it kind of felt like my first big league homer right there. It was special." The Indians' Corey Kluber pitched a perfect second to pick up the win for the Junior Circuit, which has now won four straight, and he also became the first Tribe pitcher to win an All-Star Game since now-Mets hurler Bartolo Colon in 1998. The Cubs' Kris Bryant put the National League ahead in the first, launching a solo shot off the scoreboard beyond the left-field first deck. Miami's Marcell Ozuna would tack on an RBI single in the fourth, but the AL bullpen didn't falter after that. The game's most dramatic moment came in the top of the eighth, when Astros righty Will Harris punched out the Cardinals' Aledmys Diaz with the bases loaded. Harris' heroics kept the AL in front by two, before Baltimore's Zach Britton worked a smooth ninth to record the save. "It's baseball; we face All-Stars all the time," Harris said. "It's no different. You just want to do your job, and now the game counts for so much. With home-field advantage, there's a little bit extra on the line which makes it that much more fun." Of course, the win means an AL club will have home-field advantage in the World Series (something the reigning-champion Royals would know a thing or two about). Six of the last seven title winners have done so with the benefit of home field -- and nine of 13 overall, since the rule was implemented in 2003. "We don't know who is going to be representing the American League, but we know how much that home-field advantage helped us," said Hosmer. " ... We're glad that we could secure it for the American League. It's something we all set out to accomplish before the game started."

  • Playing in his final Midsummer Classic, 10-time All-Star Ortiz smacked a rocket to first base in the top of the first, but it was picked deftly by the NL's Anthony Rizzo. That was the only official at-bat of the night for Ortiz. He walked in the third and was removed for a pinch-runner to a rousing ovation from fans and players alike. Ortiz, who is batting .332 and leads the Majors in on-base percentage and slugging, plans to retire after the season. "It's something that I'll never forget, when you see all your boys," Ortiz said of being greeted by his teammates as he left the field. "Pretty much everybody in this dugout has been related to me one way or another."
  • While playing college ball at the University of San Diego, Bryant became a bit of a local legend with tales of his prodigious power. Evidently, nothing's changed. Bryant launched the first pitch he saw from AL starter Chris Sale out to left at 111 mph -- the second hardest-hit ball against Sale in 2016. "It was a good couple days for me," said Bryant, who pointed out that he's still 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against the White Sox ace during the regular season. "I got to see some people that I haven't seen in a while, had a couple of them here at the game and was able to hit the home run. It was a special moment. I really wanted to just enjoy it and take it all in, and I think I accomplished my goal."
  • Mike Trout's first-inning single increased his All-Star Game hitting streak to five -- and he's recorded a hit in his first at-bat on all five occasions. Dave Winfield, Joe Morgan and Mickey Mantle hold the all-time record with hits in seven straight. Trout, who finished 1-for-3, is now 6-for-13 with four extra-base hits all-time in the Midsummer Classic. "I'm enjoying it more; I know what I'm going to do," Trout said of his fifth All-Star experience. "The guys in there do a good job keeping me in the right line, where I'm going at the right time, and I just try to enjoy every minute of it. This time it went so fast."
  • Along with Hosmer and Perez, NL starter Johnny Cueto was also a driving force behind the Royals' 2015 World Series run. But on Tuesday, Hosmer and Perez got to face Cueto as All-Star opponents. The current Royals certainly got the better of their former teammate. Hosmer smacked an opposite-field solo blast into the first row, before Perez launched a go-ahead two-run shot, two batters later, putting the AL on top, 3-1. "I felt like a proud papa there in the second inning after those two guys gave us the lead, and I was really excited," said Royals skipper Ned Yost, who was managing the AL. "It's been a long time since I've been that proud of two players in a moment like that."
  • Yankees left-hander Andrew Miller loaded the bases with two down in the eighth, prompting Yost to call upon Harris, a first-time All-Star, in the game's pivotal moment. Harris ran the count full on Diaz, before painting the outside corner with strike three to escape the threat. "That's everything you can want when you come to an All-Star Game," Diaz said. "Bases loaded and a chance to hit. I tried to do my best, and he threw me a good pitch on 3-2, and he got me." 
  • Fan-favorite Wil Myers roped a two-out double in the fifth, making him the first player to record an extra-base hit in a hometown All-Star Game since Mariners outfielder Mike Cameron did so in 2001. He's also the first Padre with an extra-base hit at the Midsummer Classic since Ken Caminiti in 1996. One inning earlier, southpaw Drew Pomeranz tossed a scoreless fourth and left to a standing ovation. "The fans were just going crazy since we're here in our home city," Pomeranz said. "Especially when they announced both of us. It was pretty awesome. It's pretty special to have your first one anywhere, but even more so here."
  • "When I'm in the clubhouse in the All-Star Game, I get really impressed, to be honest with you, with the talent that MLB has. At the same time, those kids, they come back to you and embrace you. It's an unbelievable experience." – Ortiz.
  • Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy led off the fifth inning by bouncing a slow chopper that was bobbled by Jose Altuve at second base. Altuve recovered and fired to first, where Murphy was initially ruled out. But NL manager Terry Collins initiated the first replay review in All-Star Game history, and the call was promptly overturned.
  • In a goosebumps-inducing ceremony before the game, Major League Baseball announced that it would name the NL batting title after legendary Padre Tony Gwynn, and its AL crown after Rod Carew. That was followed by a video tribute on the Petco Park scoreboard honoring Mr. Padre and leaving no dry eyes among the 42,386 in attendance.
  • Despite the loss, the NL still holds a one-game lead in the all-time series, which now sits at 43-42-2. In fact, the two teams have been so close over the years that the NL holds a one-run edge, 360-359. But the American League has been noticeably dominant of late, having won 22 of the past 29.
  • Left-hander Daniel Stumpf returned to the Phillies July 10 after serving an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Philadelphia acquired Stumpf from Kansas City last December in the Rule 5 Draft. He pitched in three games before being suspended.
  • Active members of the Mets have hit a combined .307 against Hellickson, with Jose Reyes having recorded a .381 batting average to go along with one homer and four RBIs.
  • Mets manager Terry Collins has expressed hope that Yoenis Cespedes would be ready to play by the end of the All-Star break. Cespedes, who sustained a right quad strain July 8, leads the Mets with 21 homers and 52 RBIs. In 26 at-bats against the Phillies in the first half of the year, Cespedes hit .269 with three homers and six RBIs.

After limping into the All-Star break with a slew of injuries to key players, the Mets turn to Jacob deGrom (5-4, 2.61 ERA) to set the tone for the second half of the season July 15 against the Phillies, who counter with Jeremy Hellickson (6-6, 3.92 ERA). deGrom and Bartolo Colon have been the only regular members of the Mets' starting rotation to avoid injury issues in recent weeks. Matt Harvey opted for season-ending surgery to repair his thoracic outlet syndrome, while Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard have both been pitching through bone spurs; Syndergaard left his start July 8 with a "dead arm." Hellickson has provided a veteran presence in a young Phillies pitching staff, but his name has floated around in trade rumors. The Mets could be in the market for a starter given all their issues, but there's been no indication Hellickson could be an option for them.


Awed By First Experience – Just a year and a half after the Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, outfielder Odubel Herrera found himself lined up among the Major Leagues' best players in the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on Tuesday night at Petco Park. Herrera entered as a pinch-hitter for the National League in the sixth inning of a 4-2 loss to the American League, facing the Royals' Kelvin Herrera with one out. After taking the first two pitches for balls, Herrera put a good swing on a 94-mph fastball and lined the pitch to center, right into the glove of the Rangers' Ian Desmond. Herrera said he was looking to hit, not walk, after getting ahead in the count. After playing two innings in center field, Herrera was lifted for pinch-hitter Starling Marte in the eighth, ending his All-Star debut. Asked what he'll remember most about his first Midsummer Classic, Herrera said, "Everything. Especially when the manager told me that I was going to go onto the field." The 24-year-old Herrera has enjoyed an impressive follow-up to his breakout rookie campaign, batting .294/.378/.427 in 2016 with 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases. That performance earned him the Phillies' lone All-Star spot. Thanks in part to the play of their center fielder, the Phillies are 42-48 on the season and on pace to win 75 games, a dramatic improvement over their 63-99 finish in 2015. Herrera said in the second half he hopes "to do a better job, to help the team as much as I can and to make adjustments, keep making adjustments." Much of Herrera's success can be ascribed to his improved plate discipline, as he's walked at an impressive 11.6 percent clip following a meager 5.2 rate as a rookie. "Last year, I was striking out a lot. During the offseason, it was a goal that I put to myself to improve [my plate discipline]. And I think that's what we've seen," he said. "He's a special guy," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. "I call him a hit collector. I don't know how he does it sometimes." Odubel Herrera Sr. agreed with the skipper's sentiments. "Basically, [when he reached] the age of 12, I started to realize he could be a great player, possibly a professional player," Herrera's father said at MLB's media day on Monday. Both of Herrera's parents are visiting the United States, carefully following Phillies games.

Pregame Honors – The American League and National League batting titles have been renamed after two of the greatest hitters in Major League Baseball history. In a goosebumps-inducing moment before the AL's 4-2 win over the NL in Tuesday night's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard at Petco Park, MLB announced that the NL batting title will be named after Tony Gwynn and that the AL crown will be named after Rod Carew. Commissioner Rob Manfred stood at a podium with the newly minted replica trophies, and he was joined on the field by Carew and his family and Gwynn's wife and children. This moment induced the loudest applause from the fans of all of the memorable moments during the pregame ceremony. "The player with the highest batting average in the American League will now be known as the Rod Carew American League batting champion," Padres Hall of Fame announcer Dick Enberg said. "The player with the highest batting average in the National League will be forever known as the Tony Gwynn National League batting champion. "Oh, my! Commissioner Manfred has given both families a beautiful replica of these new awards. Fans, let's hear it one more time for two of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball, Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn." Carew, a seven-time AL batting champion, won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1967 and appeared in 18 consecutive All-Star Games. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in '91. Gwynn, who passed away in 2014, played his entire 20-year career with the Padres, compiling 3,141 hits and a lifetime batting average of .338. The 15-time All-Star was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in '07. "Rod is one of the most highly decorated players in American League history, who made 18 straight All-Star appearances in his Hall of Fame career," Manfred said. "Tony is considered one of the greatest hitters in the history of the National League, and there is no better place to honor him than in San Diego. Major League Baseball is pleased to recognize their extraordinary careers by naming our batting crowns in their honor." The announcement prompted the Petco Park crowd into frenzied chants of "Tony! Tony!" Though most of the pregame festivities were joyous, there was some controversy during the Canadian anthem. "Oh, Canada" was performed by The Tenors, a group from Victoria, British Columbia, and a member of the quartet, Remigio Pereira, altered the lyrics to include the phrase "All Lives Matter." Additionally, Pereira held up a small sign containing the controversial three-word phrase. The political statement caused a stir on social media and prompted the group to send out a tweet condemning the action: "The Tenors are deeply sorry for the disrespectful and misguided lack of judgment by one member of the group acting as a 'lone wolf' today during the singing of the Canadian national anthem at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in San Diego. "The other members of the group are shocked and embarrassed by the actions of Remigio Pereira, who changed the lyrics of our treasured anthem and used this coveted platform to serve his own political views. "Our sincere apologies and regrets go out to everybody who witnessed this shameful act, to our fellow Canadians, to Major League Baseball, to our friends, families, fans and to all those affected. "The actions of one member of this group were extremely selfish, and he will not be performing with the Tenors until further notice." The U.S. national anthem was performed by international pop star Rachel Platten, most known for her smash hit, "Fight Song." Tuesday's pregame events in San Diego also paid homage to Padres history and to the city's strong military presence. The ceremony began with 275 Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing marching on the field holding the American flag. Two-hundred members of the U.S. Navy from the USS Theodore Roosevelt circled the field in recognition of the Navy tradition of "manning the rails" as a ship comes back to port. The Joint Services Color Guard completed the trifecta, lining the outfield near the other military arms. Following introductions of the AL and NL reserves, the starters assembled along the baselines, accompanied by young fans from local San Diego community groups. The kids were paired with one player each and wore T-shirts bearing the names and uniform numbers of their respective All-Stars. Following the Carew and Gwynn trophy announcement, the familiar first notes of AC/DC's "Hells Bells" played over the loudspeaker, while the Petco Park scoreboard lit up with "Trevor Time." This was a familiar scene during Trevor Hoffman's tenure with the Padres, during which he established himself as the greatest closer in club history and one of the best in baseball history. Hoffman emerged from the bullpen and took the long walk to the mound to deliver the game ball, pointing and waving to all parts of the ballpark along the way. He also joined the crowd in clapping to the beat of "Hells Bells," his signature song the Padres played each time he emerged from the bullpen to close out a game. Six U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Flight Team aircrafts completed the flyover in a winged formation, and the ceremony ended with 2015-16 Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Youth of the Year Whitney Stewart yelling "Play Ball!"

Today In Phils History – Delahanty dominates this day in Phillies history as he hit 4 homeruns (including 2 inside the park homeruns), collected 7 RBI, and went 5 for 5 on this day in 1896. The following year, Delahanty went 9 for 9 in a doubleheader against Louisville and went 4 for 5 the following day tying the MLB record with 3 consecutive games with at least 4 hits. 3 years later, Harry Wolverton tied a MLB record with 3 triples in a game. Red Miller had an unexpected day in 1923 when, in the midst of a Cincinnati route, the Phillies called on the former batboy, clubhouse attendant, batting practice pitcher and semi-pro pitcher, from the stands to take the mound (he threw one scoreless inning which was followed by 2/3 of an inning during which he surrendered 6 hits, a walk, and 6 earned runs). Cy Blanton didn’t fare much better in 1941 when he gave up 13 singles over 5+ innings to St. Louis. The home team was well represented at the Vet during the 1976 All Star Game with Greg Luzinski starting in Left Field with Dave Cash, Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, and Bob Boone coming off the bench as the NL won the game 7-1. In 1993, for the 1st time since Steve Carlton took the ball in 1979, the Phillies had a pitcher start the All Star Game when Terry Mulholland was given the honor (he was joined in Baltimore by starters John Kruk (1B) and Darren Daulton (C) with Dave Hollins having been selected as a reserve player).

The Phillies are currently 42-48 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 40-43-0 on this day. I expect the Phillies to finish in the bottom half of the division but not last in the NL East by finishing the season with a 77-85 record.

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