Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
It's the NL vs. the AL tonight in the Midsummer Classic from Chase Field.
The NL, which finally snapped a string of 13 consecutive non-winning seasons last summer, will be going for its second straight victory. That would ensure home-field advantage for the World Series (not the representatives of the Padres, Astros, Cubs and Marlins care at all about that right now).
One new wrinkle to the game this season: The DH is being used in a National League park. Though there remains tons of support for traditional NL rules during the regular season (and even the postseason), there doesn't seem to be much reason for pitchers to hit in the All-Star Game.
I'm posting this early because I've got several events to attend this morning/afternoon, including Commissioner Bud Selig's annual session with the Baseball Writers' Association of America. I'll have a posting on that later today, and I'll have live updates throughout the game this evening right here...
2011 MLB ALL-STAR GAME
Where: Chase Field
Gametime: 8:20 p.m.
Radio: ESPN-980 AM, XM 176
Weather: Dome (Outside: Mostly sunny, 101 degrees)
STARTING LINEUPS7:30 p.m. -- I've bumped this post back up to the top of the homepage, but please feel free to continue the discussion about Bud Selig's comments today on that posting, which you can now find right below this one.
CF Curtis Granderson, NYY
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Cle
1B Adrian Gonzalez, Bos
RF Jose Bautista, Tor
LF Josh Hamilton, Tex
3B Adrian Beltre, Tex
DH David Ortiz, Bos
2B Robinson Cano, NYY
C Alex Avila, Det
(P Jared Weaver, LAA)
2B Rickie Weeks, Mil
DH Carlos Beltran, NYM
CF Matt Kemp, LAD
1B Prince Fielder, Mil
C Brian McCann, Atl
RF Lance Berkman, StL
LF Matt Holliday, StL
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Col
3B Scott Rolen, Cin
(P Roy Halladay, Phi)
8:13 p.m. -- I know it takes forever, but to me there's still nothing cooler than the introduction of the All-Star players. Everyone gets their moment in the sun. Also love that everyone wears their regular uniforms, not a special All-Star jersey.
8:31 p.m. -- Some touching moments during the pregame ceremonies, none more so than the family of Christina Taylor Green, the young girl killed during the shooting in Tucson earlier this year. Green, of course, was the granddaughter of longtime manager Dallas Green, and the entire family is well-known in the baseball world. They didn't show this on TV, but the ceremonial first pitches were thrown by longtime announcer Joe Garagiola (who still calls a few Diamondbacks games) and Daniel Hernandez (the congressional intern who is credited with helping save Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' life during that shooting). Very nice moments.
8:38 p.m. -- And now, at last, let's Play Ball! Curtis Granderson swings at Roy Halladay's first-pitch fastball and grounds out to first base, amid a flurry of lightbulb flashes.
8:41 p.m. -- Well, that didn't take long. Halladay dispatched of the American Leaguers in all of nine pitches, getting a pair of groundballs to first and striking out Asdrubal Cabrera.
8:48 p.m. -- And Jered Weaver chimes in with his own scoreless first inning, though he did issue a two-out walk to Matt Kemp. He also uncorked a very Clippard-esque changeup to strike out Carlos Beltran. Seventy-six mph, at the letters, and Beltran swung right through it. We've seen Tyler do that a few times. Scoreless here after one.
8:55 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Halladay, who's work is probably done. Faced six total batters in two innings, retiring all six and striking out one. Threw 14 of his 19 pitches for strikes.
8:57 p.m. -- Wow, we've got an All-Star Game injury! Josh Beckett tried to warm up to pitch the bottom of the second, but he departed after experiencing soreness in his knee. David Robertson will pitch instead, and he'll be allowed as much time as he needs to warm up.
9:05 p.m. -- Interesting bottom of the second there. After Robertson was warm, Brian McCann launched a foul ball just shy of the right-field pole, only to have Jose Bautista make a spectacular, sliding catch, slamming into the wall as he did it. After Lance Berkman singled, he surprisingly took off for second base on a called third strike to Matt Holliday. Berkman actually beat the throw to second, but his awkward slide left him off the base for a split-second and Robinson Cano kept the tag on to complete a strange, inning-ending double play.
9:13 p.m. -- And a 1-2-3 inning from Cliff Lee, all three outs on groundballs. Anyone surprised by this?
9:20 p.m. -- World, meet Michael Pineda. Good luck hitting THAT. Wow, is the Mariners' big, rookie right-hander a handful, or what? Just mowed down Troy Tulowitzki, Scott Rolen and Rickie Weeks, striking out the last two. It's scoreless through three. Why do I have a feeling this could be a recurring theme all night?
9:26 p.m. -- Or maybe not. Adrian Gonzalez, picking up right where he left off in the Home Run Derby last night, crushes an 0-1 pitch from Lee into the pool area behind the right-center field fence. The AL takes a 1-0 lead. And as I type that, Tyler Clippard has begun warming in the NL bullpen.
9:29 p.m. -- And here comes Clippard to face Adrian Beltre with two on and two out in the fourth. Of course he HAD to come in with runners on base!
9:34 p.m. -- Well that was eventful. Clippard got ahead of Beltre, but then served up a sharp single to left on the 0-2 fastball. Thankfully, Hunter Pence (who just entered in left) fired a bullet to the plate to nail Bautista. So, technically, I guess Clippard is credited with stranding two runners?
9:41 p.m. -- And now -- as only he could -- Clippard is in line to "vulture" the win. Prince Fielder crushes a three-run homer off left C.J. Wilson, putting the NL up 3-1. Long way to go, obviously, but Clip is now the pitcher of record. And remember who won last year's All-Star Game? Yep, Matt Capps.
9:52 p.m. -- Clayton Kershaw pitches the fifth inning for the NL and retires the side, with two more groundouts to first (what's with all those tonight?). NL maintains its 3-1 lead heading to the bottom of the fifth.
10:24 p.m. -- So, I just spent the last 20 minutes standing outside the NL clubhouse after an announcement was made in the press box that Clippard would be available for interviews. Except after that long wait, we were told he wouldn't be available until the game is over. So, I'm catching up on the game now. It's currently 4-1 NL after six innings, thanks to a fifth-inning RBI single from Andre Ethier.
10:39 p.m. -- The AL threatens to cut into the lead in the top of the seventh, putting two men on with two outs. But Braves reliever Craig Kimbrel enters to replace teammate Jair Jurrjens and gets Howie Kendrick to ground out. We've reached the seventh-inning stretch, the NL still leading 4-1 and Tyler Clippard still in line for the win.
10:54 p.m. -- Make it 5-1 NL after Pence advances two bases on Matt Wieters' passed ball -- oh, those Baltimore Orioles -- and then scores on Pablo Sandoval's ground-rule double to left. We are six outs away from a second straight National League victory and a second straight Nationals pitcher earning the win.
11:01 p.m. -- Whoa, Heath Bell sprints in from the bullpen and then does a pop-up slide into the mound! Todd Coffey: Your move. Let's see you top that!
11:12 p.m. -- Hmm, interesting ... Joel Hanrahan will start the ninth inning for the NL. Bruce Bochy had indicated his own Brian Wilson would be the guy. Either he's 1) giving Wilson a rest, 2) planning to bring him in after Hanrahan records an out or two, or 3) fully expecting Hanrahan to blow this and need bailing out. So we go to the ninth, the NL up 5-1 as NatsTown and Tyler Clippard await with baited breath.
11:13 p.m. -- OK, Wilson has picked up a ball, so he'll be the one to actually finish this game.
11:28 p.m. -- Ballgame. The National League wins its second straight All-Star game, 5-1 over the American League. And for the second straight year, a Nats reliever gets the win after facing only one batter. Matt Capps in 2010. Tyler Clippard in 2011. How about that?