Tuesday Night, July 15, 2008
All Star Thoughts
I thought I would jot down some thoughts as the All-Star game is going on tonight. If you happen to be watching the game, great. If you're one of those that just sees no purpose in the All Star game... I'm sorry to hear that. I realize that the game itself doesn't matter. I don't care who wins the game. The fact that the game, which should be an exhibition, actually means home field advantage in the World Series is ridiculous. But on the surface, the opportunity to watch some of the game's best players on one field is terrific. As far as Derek Jeter batting second, with Joe Mauer batting eighth, despite the fact that Mauer is the far better hitter this year, is not a big deal to me at all. As the illustration showed during Jeter's first at bat, he has about 2,500 career hits. He is a star, and the game is in Yankees Stadium. If he hits second, who cares? Do you think Mauer cares if he starts and bats 8th or 2nd?
I'm one who truly enjoys the pre-game festivities even more than the actual game. I love watching the reserves from each league get announced. I like watching the starters come out of the dugout. Imagine how much I loved watching all of the Hall of Famers that were in attendance be involved in the announcement of the starters. For those who didn't see it, they started at pitcher and had probably 15-20 Hall of Fame pitchers at the mound in a line. Then the game's two starters, Cliff Lee and Ben Sheets, went out to the mound and had the opportunity to shake their hands. This went position by position. To see the likes of Whitey Ford and Hank Aaron and Harmon Killebrew on the field with the new stars was incredible. A couple notes though... I understand that the game is in Yankees Stadium, but Reggie Jackson should NOT be the final Hall of Fame RF announced. That should have been Hank Aaron. Secondly, Willie Mays was the only Hall of Fame CF. As Josh Hamilton was running out to CF, I said (yes, out loud, to myself), "Wow! Four years ago, his career is essentially over because of heroin addiction. Last night he steals the show at the Home Run Derby. Tonight, he gets introduced as the American League's starting CF and 3rd hitter and gets to run out to the outfield to shake hands with Willie Mays! Wow!" And when Hamilton got out there, Mays completely gave him the cold shoulder. Just looked awkward.
Cliff Lee looked excellent in the first two innings .Joe Mauer was behind the plate and I kept wondering what Lee told Mauer about his pitches before the game started. I mean, did he give him any trade secrets like, "Against left-handed hitters, over 6-4, I like to get ahead by throwing a cut fastball that starts over the middle of the plate. I then..."
Mauer came to bat against Ben Sheets in the bottom of the 2nd inning with a runner on second base and two outs. He took two curveballs out of the zone to get ahead 2-0. He then fouled off a 96 mph fastball. He took another curveball for a ball. On 3-1, he took a fastball on the inside corner, below the knees for strike two. But then he coaxed the walk.
Four innings are done in less than an hour. The pitching has absolutely dominated. Albert Pujols hit a ball off the wall down the right field line that normally would be a double, but Ichiro fielded it and gunned him out fairly easily at 2B. That's been about it!
Matt Holliday just hit an opposite field, long home run against Ervin Santana to lead off the top of the 5th to give the NL a 1-0 lead. Remember when he used to be so underrated?
Geovany Soto is a very cool name! I was just looking back in my Archives and in January, I posted my Top 20 Impact Rookies in 2008. Based on first halves, I think I did pretty well through the top eight, with just a couple of exceptions. I feel the need to mention that because I wasn't as good with my Top 20 Impact Pitchers in 2008!
Joe Mauer came to bat in the bottom of the 5th inning against Dan Haren of the Diamondbacks. On the 2nd pitch, a 1-0 fastball, Mauer bounced a ball over the pitcher's mound that Haren tipped with his glove so there was no play. Ian Kinsler ran for Mauer. Mauer's night ends 1-1 with a walk. Sounds about right.
As the top of the 6th begins, Joe Mauer is out of the game, replaced by Jason Varitek. Justin Morneau has replaced Kevin Youklis at 1B. Justin Duchscherer is getting hit pretty hard. I had forgotten the this is his second All Star game, that he was in the game a few years ago as a set up man. Somehow he only gave up one run. The NL is up 2-0 after 5 1/2 innings.
Joe Nathan gets the top of the 7th for the American League. He started by striking out Ryan Braun on three pitches. Nate McLouth flew out lazily to centerfield. Russell Martin did the same thing. A nice 1-2-3 performance.
In a game played by stars, Josh Groban proved himself an All-Star with the vocals with the singing of God Bless America. You should hear my rendition of his "You Raise Me Up!" It's pretty, well, it's pretty effort-filled!
Justin Morneau just drilled a double over a leaping 2B and into the gap. It was a 2-0 pitch from Reds starter Edinson Volquez. He scored two batters later, with two outs, when JD Drew drilled a line drive over the wall in right field to tie the game at 2.
I like when an announcer says something like Joe Buck just did. He said that Dan Uggla might be the 'best hitter you've never heard of.' Seriously, does anyone actually watch an All Star game and truly not know who somebody is? I mean, it's not like Uggla is new to the league. He's been producing for a couple of years. Maybe you could get away with saying that this year about Nate McLouth or Ryan Ludwick, but if you pay any attention to baseball, these are not names that no one knows.
By the way, Jonathan Papelbon came in and gave up a run to put the NL back ahead, 3-2.
They just showed Brian Wilson coming into the game for the NL. I can't help but wonder if that is NL manager Clint Hurdle's way of ensuring that Mariano Rivera can get a save opportunity?
Well, Brian Wilson throws some gas! If he could throw a consistent off-speed pitch, he could be very good. He got the inning's first two outs. With two outs, lefty Billy Wagner came in and gave up a single to Grady Sizemore. Sizemore took 2nd base on a 1-2 pitch. The next pitch, Evan Longoria hit a ground rule double into the corner to score the tying run. Had Sizemore not taken second base, he would have been stranded at 3rd base when Justin Morneau tapped out weakly to Wagner. Tie game going into the 9th.
I only bring this up because it's so good to see Cristian Guzman having a great year. I mean, he leads the NL in hits. OK, also because I am so rarely right that I have to point it out at the All-Star break in case things change in the second half. In my NL Prediction posting in March, I wrote in the NL East BOLD Predictions, "Cristian Guzman will be the third best SS in the NL East. (take a second and think through the other SS in the division)"
So far, I may have underestimated!!
New York or whatever, the reaction to seeing Mariano Rivera enter the game in Yankees Stadium was pretty cool!
Alright, we're going to extra innings and I'm not sure I care any more... if this doesn't end soon, I may go to sleep! I have to catch a plane at 7:00 in the morning!
Rough 10th inning for Dan Uggla. First, he hit a big double play to end the top half of the inning. Then he had back to back errors on back to back pitches to put AL runners on first and third. Aaron Cook walked Carlos Guillen to load the bases and the infield was brought in. Grady Sizemore grounded to 2B, and Uggla threw home for the force out for the first out. Evan Longoria then grounded to 3B where Cristian Guzman fielded it and threw home for the 2nd out. That brought up Justin Morneau with two outs and the bases still loaded. Morneau grounded weakly to SS where Miguel Tejada made an incredible play to end the inning... and Justin Morneau is not swift.
Uggh!! I thought I could go to bed knowing how the game ended, but on a Michael Young single to center, Nate McLouth threw out Dioner Navarro at home in what would have been the game-winner in the bottom of the 11th.
Headed to the 12th, and I'm heading to bed! Keep the comments coming in the comments section so I know what else happens!
Twins Minor League Updates
Tuesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Alexander Soto, Elizabethton Twins
Tuesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Curtis Leavitt, Elizabethton Twins
Tuesday – Rochester – No Game Scheduled. Darnell McDonald will be the Red Wings lone representative at the International League All-Star game.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Tuesday - New Britain – Luke Hughes, Steve Tolleson, Ryan Mullins and Ben Julianel will represent the Rockcats in the Eastern League All-Star game.
Tuesday – Beloit – No Game Scheduled. I have to believe it is in observance of the Major League All-Star game.
Tuesday - E-Twins 7, Greeneville 8 – Curtis Leavitt took a big step toward reclaiming his spot in the starting rotation from Dan Berlind. Berlind started and gave up five runs on five hits and three walks in just 3.2 innings. Leavitt came in and threw four shutout innings. He gave up just two hits and a walk while striking out three. Danny Rondon came in to get the last out of the 8th inning, but then he gave up three runs on three hits (2 homers) in the 9th inning to take the loss. Alexander Soto went 2-4 with a walk, his sixth double and seventh home run. Michael Harrington went 2-4 with a walk, his sixth homer and three RBI. Angel Morales went 2-4. Evan Bigley went 2-5. Dominic de la Osa went 0-2, but he walked three times.
GCL TWINS TALK
Tuesday – GCL Twins, GCL Orioles – Postponed by Rain.
Other Thoughts -
What do you thi