Tulo contending with 4 pitchers on NL side; 5 position players vying on AL side
By Mark Newman
Balloting is under way through 4 p.m. ET on Friday in the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, a four-day blitz in which unique campaign alliances will form, digital balloting records will probably fall and fans will decide the 34th and final roster spots for the 86th Midsummer Classic on July 14 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Youth served on All-Star Game rosters
By Doug Miller
You can't host a rocking party without a guest list full of VIPs, and you can't have a Major League All-Star celebration for the ages without the rest of baseball's A-list.
So fittingly, 24 hours after the starters for the 86th Midsummer Classic at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati next Tuesday were announced, the reserves -- as well as the 10 contenders for the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote -- were revealed.
Cespedes was left out of the American League All-Star outfield on the starting ballot and player vote, but he has a chance to get in through the Final Vote. In case anyone needed a reminder of his case, he launched a 432-foot drive deep into the Northwest night on Monday against the Mariners for a tape-measure home run that led off a five-run comeback a 12-5 win for the Tigers.
PITTSBURGH -- At some point this offseason, perhaps sitting at the dinner table during the holidays, Padres interim manager Pat Murphy might think about this loss and smile.
But that grin probably won't spread quite as wide as the one that stretched across his son-in-law's face Monday night at PNC Park. That's because Pedro Alvarez, Murphy's son-in-law, dealt the decisive blow in the Pirates' 2-1 walk-off win over the Padres.
LOS ANGELES -- Jimmy Rollins came through in the clutch against his old team and the Dodgers held on for a hard-fought 10-7 victory over the Phillies on Monday night at Dodger Stadium in a game that took four hours and 13 minutes to complete.
Rollins came to the plate with two outs in the seventh inning with the score tied at 7, and drove in a pair of runs to give the Dodgers a lead they wouldn't surrender. Rollins was 2-for-4 in his first game against Philadelphia after spending 15 years with the Phillies. Howie Kendrick chipped in four hits for Los Angeles.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Steve Bourbon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
CHICAGO -- The White Sox rallied for three unearned runs against Mark Buehrle in the eighth inning, claiming a 4-2 victory Monday night in the series opener with the Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field that last one hour and 54 minutes. Chris Sale didn't reach double-digits in strikeouts, but he did pitch his first complete game of 2015.
"Any time you can pick up your bullpen and leave them out of it, that's huge," said Sale, who didn't issue a walk in his eighth career complete game. "That's what you strive for, filling in innings, getting deep into games and giving your team a chance to win. Fortunately for myself, my team came back for us and we won."
CHICAGO -- Lefty Jon Lester may have gotten his first hit, and he'll likely get a free beer, too, from former teammate John Lackey -- who served up the hit -- but he called the single "worthless" because the Cubs lost, 6-0.
Lester recorded his first Major League hit with an infield single off the Cardinals' Lackey in the second inning on Monday to end an 0-for-66 career hitless streak that began in 2006.
DENVER -- Albert Pujols has officially surged back into the collective conscience.
On the heels of a dominant run reminiscent of his heyday in St. Louis, Pujols was chosen for his 10th All-Star Game on Monday, ending a four-year hiatus. The Angels' cleanup hitter was selected as a reserve but will start at first base, replacing the injured Miguel Cabrera and joining teammate Mike Trout in the American League starting lineup.
PITTSBURGH -- All-Star constant Andrew McCutchen not only made his fifth consecutive Midsummer Classic as the rest of the National League squad was announced Monday night -- but is also the pick to replace the injured Giancarlo Stanton in the starting lineup for the 86th All-Star Game on July 14 in Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park.
McCutchen will be joined in the Pirates' contingent by first-timers A.J. Burnett and Gerrit Cole -- the first tandem of Pittsburgh starters on an All-Star staff since Bob Friend and Vernon Law in 1960 -- and fellow 2013 All-Star Mark Melancon.
The American League team is dotted with Royals blue. The National League club is more of a diverse melting pot. Still, there is no question that there will be enough stratospheric talent from all over the Major Leagues on display at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on July 14 to do an All-Star job of painting the town of the Reds.
The starters for the 86th All-Star Game were announced on Sunday night, and the two marquee teams have enough fireworks in supply to keep the spirit of Independence Day humming right along.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Flies and whiffs: Scherzer's unique dominance
Strikeout rate, walk rate, flyball rate all among MLB leaders
By Mike Petriello
Something you probably already know: By all the important metrics, Max Scherzer has been among the most dominant pitchers in baseball this season. His 1.94 FIP is the lowest among all qualified starters; his 1.82 ERA is second only to Zack Greinke. His 30.8 strikeout percentage is the fourth-highest; his 3.1 percent walk rate is the third-lowest. When he faces off against Cincinnati's wonderful Johnny Cueto on Tuesday night, it's no slight at all to Cueto to suggest that Scherzer will easily be the most dominant pitcher on the mound. Scherzer's that good.
So he's great, and you know that. But did you know that the particular way in which he's doing it sets him apart -- in some cases, well apart -- from his peers? There's no one right way to be a great pitcher. There's just different kinds of great. Scherzer's variety stands out more than most.
By August Fagerstrom and Brian McTaggart
CLEVELAND -- The Astros put their foot on the gas in the first inning and didn't let up, collecting 16 hits, including 10 against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, for a 9-4 series-opening victory at Progressive Field on Monday night.
"We swung the bats extremely well and I thought our game plan against Carrasco was great," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We executed it. We had three or four guys getting on base three or more times. When you have big nights like that out of multiple guys, it's usually a good sign. Good effort on the first game of the series against a good pitcher."
August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
CHICAGO -- Jon Lester had more hits himself than the Cardinals did through six innings, but he and the Cubs couldn't shut down St. Louis completely.
Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly and Kolten Wong added an RBI single in the seventh to lift the Cardinals to a 6-0 rain-interrupted victory on Monday night over Lester and the Cubs, who dropped to 2-8 against their National League Central rivals.
If we know anything about the All-Star rosters, it's that they are fungible properties basically up until the day of the Midsummer Classic itself. Things happen. Guys get hurt. Guys pitch on Sunday and pull themselves out of availability. Guys get stuck on a layover at O'Hare and can't make it to Cincinnati.
Here's to you, A.J. Burnett. Talk about your basic sweet going-away present. Pretty cool, huh? That Burnett's first All-Star selection comes in his 17th season at the age of 38 might just make the honor even more meaningful.
He keeps telling us this season will be his last, that he returned to Pittsburgh to help the Pirates win a World Series. Regardless, this is no ceremonial honor. With a 1.99 ERA, 113 innings and 94 strikeouts, he's more than deserving.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
2015 Draft: Signing and Bonus Tracker
Here's a complete breakdown of which 2015 Draft picks from the first 10 rounds have agreed to terms, along with their reported bonuses and starting assignments. The list will be updated through the July 17 signing deadline.
CLEVELAND -- Astros outfielder Preston Tucker celebrated his 25th birthday in style Monday night, setting a career high with four hits and finishing a triple shy of the cycle to pace a 16-hit attack in a 9-4 win over the Indians at Progressive Field.
Tucker, whose playing time has increased with George Springer on the disabled list due to a fractured right wrist, became the first player to get four or more hits on his birthday since Jacoby Ellsbury on Sept. 11, 2012. The only other Astros player to do it was Jeff Bagwell vs. the Cardinals on May 27, 2003.
MILWAUKEE -- After the Braves completed a 5-3 win over the Brewers at Miller Park on Monday night, both teams expressed concern about an unidentified female fan who was struck in the face by Eury Perez's foul ball in the top of the ninth inning.
"It's just awful," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "For everybody in [the clubhouse], our prayers go out to her. You hate to see it. You hope she's able to recover and enjoy a game again."
By Mark Bowman and Brandon Curry
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
MILWAUKEE -- Kelly Johnson's two-run homer fueled the early offensive uprising the Braves used to cool off the red-hot Brewers and claim a 5-3 win Monday night at Miller Park. Milwaukee had won its past eight games.
The Braves, who have won five of their past six games, tallied a pair of runs in each of the first two innings against Kyle Lohse, who was fortunate to only allow four runs while surrendering 11 hits over five innings. Lohse surrendered hits, including a pair of A.J. Pierzynski doubles, to nine of the first 14 batters he faced, but he did not allow a run after the second.
SEATTLE -- Last Tuesday night in Tacoma, Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma kept the ball down, kept hitters off balance and threw his 84-mph splitter with consistency in his third and final Minor League rehab start. Mentally and physically, he said he was ready for his return to the Mariners.
Six days later, Iwakuma (0-1, 7.17 ERA) left his first Major League start since April 20 disappointed he could not keep the Tigers in the ballpark in a 12-5 loss for the Mariners, but he was pleased with his health after the five-run, 68-pitch outing.
SEATTLE -- The Tigers pounded out 19 hits and four home runs to earn a 12-5 series-opening win at Safeco Field on Monday night. Nick Castellanos had four hits and four RBIs and Victor Martinez added another four hits for a Detroit offense that scored 10-plus runs for the sixth time this season.
The Mariners took a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth on a three-run home run by Logan Morrison, but Final Vote candidate Yoenis Cespedes started a decisive five-run sixth inning with the Tigers' fourth solo homer. Detroit then knocked five straight singles to open a four-run seventh inning that blew the game open.
CHICAGO -- Kolten Wong wasn't sure if the degree of difficulty matched that of his defensive gem from Sunday, but his phenomenal diving stop, off-balance flip and double play on Monday lit the way for an eventual 6-0 Cardinals win over the Cubs.
"Game saver," catcher Yadier Molina later described it. "Amazing."