Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats will be well-represented in tonight's Midsummer Classic at Kauffman Stadium.
And yes, if you're a Nationals fan, you really have legitimate reason to worry about home-field advantage in this year's World Series.
The way things are set up, the Nationals' three All-Star representatives could significantly impact this game. Tony La Russa plans to use Gio Gonzalez in the second inning and Stephen Strasburg in the third inning, so they'll get to face the American League's stacked starting lineup. Bryce Harper, meanwhile, figures to enter sometime in the middle innings and perhaps get some key late at-bats if the game's outcome is still in doubt.
So buckle up and settle in for what's always a fun night of baseball. I'll have live updates and analysis throughout...
2012 MLB ALL-STAR GAME
NATIONAL LEAGUE vs. AMERICAN LEAGUE
Where: Kauffman Stadium
Gametime: 8:15 p.m. EDT
Radio: WTEM (980 AM), WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), XM 176
Weather: Clear, 90 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from RF
DH Carlos Gonzalez
CF Melky Cabrera
LF Ryan Braun
1B Joey Votto
RF Carlos Beltran
C Buster Posey
3B Pablo Sandoval
2B Dan Uggla
SS Rafael Furcal
(P Matt Cain)
SS Derek Jeter
2B Robinson Cano
CF Josh Hamilton
RF Jose Bautista
1B Prince Fielder
3B Adrian Beltre
DH David Ortiz
C Mike Napoli
CF Curtis Granderson
(P Justin Verlander)
HP Gerry Davis (cc)
1B Jim Joyce
2B Brian Runge
3B Tony Randazzo
LF Lance Barksdale
RF Brian Knight
8:10 p.m. -- OK, we are just about ready to begin. Nice pregame pomp and circumstance, as always. Maybe I'm a softie, but the All-Star player introductions are always my favorite moment. Every player gets his moment in the sun, whether it's Chipper Jones in his final All-Star Game, Billy Butler in front of his Royals fans or Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez together for the first time as Nationals. Good stuff.
8:18 p.m. -- And we are underway on a 90-degree night in Kansas City. Justin Verlander fires a strike to Carlos Gonzalez to being the 83rd Midsummer Classic.
8:37 p.m. -- And just like that, the NL takes a 5-0 lead. Yes, 5-0. Melky Cabrera -- and by the way, where did his remarkable season come from? -- sent a one-out single to left. Ryan Braun then crushed a double off the right-field wall, bringing Cabrera (neon orange shoes and all) in to score the night's first run. Verlander -- who let that bum start this game? -- walked Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey to load the bases, and then Pablo Sandoval -- yes, Kung Fu Panda -- tripled everyone home with a drive off the right-field wall. Add an infield single from Dan Uggla and you get 5-0 in the top of the first. From his skybox, I believe Ted Lerner just called the White House to see if Barack Obama is available to throw out the first pitch before Game 1 of the World Series.
8:55 p.m. -- Matt Cain was fairly efficient in the bottom of the first, allowing only Derek Jeter's leadoff infield single. So he'll return for the bottom of the second. That means Gio Gonzalez will have to wait a little longer before entering. Joe Nathan, meanwhile, cruised through the top of the second, so it remains 5-0 NL entering the bottom of the second.
9:02 p.m. -- Boy, Cain was quite good. Wound up retiring six of seven batters faced. Now Gio is warming in the pen for the third inning. Strasburg should follow.
9:07 p.m. -- Heeeeere's Gio! He'll face Mike Napoli, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter in the bottom of the third. The NL still leads 5-0.
9:15 p.m. -- Nicely done, Mr. Gonzalez. Retired the side on 11 pitches, striking out Napoli on a curveball, getting Granderson to fly out weakly to left and getting Jeter to ground out weakly to second. So now Strasburg will get to face Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton and Jose Bautista (with Prince Fielder waiting in case someone gets on base). Buckle up for that, boys.
9:24 p.m. -- And heeeeere's Strasburg! And he'll get to pitch with an 8-0 lead thanks to Matt Holliday's RBI single and Melky Cabrera's two-run homer off Matt Harrison.
9:34 p.m. -- Well, Strasburg has had sharper innings than that before, but he'll take the end result. He threw only eight of 17 pitches for strikes, but he got Hamilton to ground into a double play and then thought he had Bautista looking at a 3-2 curveball on the inside corner, only to be frustrated by Gerry Davis' strike zone. Thanks to a nice Braun catch of Fielder's line drive to left, Strasburg enjoyed a scoreless inning.
9:44 p.m. -- Welcome to the All-Star Game, Bryce Harper! Show us what you've got! And he did, drawing a full-count walk off Jered Weaver, then tagging up from first base on a fly ball to deep left field, then getting caught in a rundown on a comebacker to the mound. Kind of a real Bryce Harper inning there. He'll take over in left field as we head to the bottom of the fifth, the NL still leading 5-0.
9:52 p.m. -- Aaaand Harper just lost a routine fly ball in the lights. Threw his arms out as the ball landed 10 feet behind him. Sadly, that's not the first time that's happened to him this year. Remember Cincinnati?
10:06 p.m. -- At this point, the only question is whether the AL is going to score a run tonight. They'll have a tough time doing it against R.A. Dickey in the bottom of the sixth.
10:17 p.m. -- Dickey did struggle a tad in the sixth, giving up a leadoff single and then plunking Konerko. But he got out of it unscathed. So it remains 8-0 heading to the seventh, with Harper leading off.
10:21 p.m. -- Not a great AB from Harper against A's rookie Ryan Cook. He struck out on three pitches, watching an 0-2 fastball over the outside corner. Harper noted yesterday how bad he's been in previous amateur and minor-league All-Star games. Well, he's continuing the trend tonight.
10:41 p.m. -- The early offensive fireworks from the NL were fun, but there's been precious little action since then. The NL hasn't done much against the AL bullpen, and the AL lineup has done absolutely nothing against the NL pitching staff. We're heading to the bottom of the eighth of what remains an 8-0 game.
11:00 p.m. -- The top of the ninth ends with Harper in the on-deck circle, so barring an eight-run rally by the AL, he'll finish 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout.
11:17 p.m. -- It's over. The National League routs the American League, 8-0, to win the 83rd All-Star Game. And Game 1 of the World Series officially can be at Nationals Park now.