All-Star lineups filled with standout after standout

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2014 - 8:25 AM

 

Chase Utley put an imaginary coin on his thumb and pretended to flip it. Who deserves to start the All-Star Game more, Clayton Kershaw or Adam Wainwright?

“That’s my answer,” the Phillies second baseman said.

It might have been Mike Matheny’s, too. As manager of the Cardinals, he wants to honor his workhorse ace. As manager of the NL All-Stars, he wants a brilliant, shutdown starter to face a power-laden AL lineup. In Wainwright, he managed to do both — even though it meant, for a second consecutive season, denying Kershaw the prestigious assignment.

Making that choice “was not an easy task, even though it may have looked that way,” Matheny said. “A lot of deserving pitchers [are] out there, but none more so than our Adam Wainwright.”

American League manager John Farrell had perhaps a little easier job, especially once Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka was injured last week. The Red Sox skipper has Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer on his staff, but “given what he’s done over his long and successful career, and what he’s doing this year,” Farrell said, he settled on Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, who is 11-2 with a 2.12 ERA.

Hernandez appeared honored by the decision. His catcher, Salvador Perez of Kansas City, seemed even more thrilled. “One hundred percent,” said Perez, like Hernandez a native of Venezuela. “I’m excited to be the first two Venezuelans, pitcher and catcher, to start an All-Star Game.”

The NL battery is more domestic, with Georgia native Wainwright throwing to Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, a Floridian. Lucroy said he has plenty of respect for a technician such as Wainwright, especially in these days when pitchers seem to throw harder every year.

“There seems to be a huge influx of those 100-mph guys,” said Lucroy, chosen by Matheny to replace injured starter Yadier Molina. “Wainwright’s one of those guys who doesn’t throw mid-90s. He stays around 90 [mph], but he’s able to locate so well, he doesn’t need to throw so hard.”

Apparently not. Wainwright has limited the opposition to two runs or fewer in 16 of his 19 starts, and he’s shut them out nine times, including a pair of complete-game shutouts. He’s 12-4 with a 1.83 ERA (second only to Kershaw’s 1.78), and has failed to go at least seven innings only three times.

“He makes it look so easy,” Cardinals reliever Pat Neshek said. “You kind of just smile when he pitches, because it’s like getting a night off. He goes seven at the minimum.”

He’ll go only an inning or two Tuesday, when the All-Star Game returns to Minnesota for the first time since 1985, and then likely give way to Kershaw, the Dodgers’ two-time Cy Young winner who no-hit the Rockies last month and put together a 41-inning scoreless streak. Kershaw had similarly awesome numbers last season but was bypassed then, too, so Mets righthander Matt Harvey could have the honor in Citi Field, his home park.

For Wainwright, the thrills will start with the first batter. Derek Jeter, playing in his 15th and final All-Star Game, will lead off for the American League.

“I’ve been in the big leagues for nine years, and I’ve never faced him,” Wainwright said of the Yankees shortstop. “I’m very excited about it, to say I’ve faced the best. And he’s undoubtedly one of the best to ever play the position, one of the greatest Yankees of all time.”

One of the greatest Twins of all time will throw out the ceremonial first pitch — seven-time batting champion Rod Carew has been given the honor — and then Target Field will be taken over by baseball’s best, including a couple of versatile, powerful lineups. The National League features an outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Yasiel Puig and Carlos Gomez, a trio who can cover ground and launch baseballs into the seats.

The American League has a legend leading off in Jeter, and perhaps the best player in the game, Angels center fielder Mike Trout, right behind him. And the 4-5-6 hitters, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Nelson Cruz, own some of the longest home runs ever hit in Target Field.

Meanwhile, a couple of native Minnesotans will wrestle with the reality of wearing an All-Star uniform in their home state. Neshek and Twins closer Glen Perkins, once teammates in the Metrodome bullpen, will soak in the cheers of their fellow Minnesotans, a dream neither ever imagined would come true.

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  • Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals throws in the outfield during batting practice Monday before the Home Run Derby.

  • Felix Hernandez:Forms, with Salvador Perez, an all-Venezuelan battery.

  • Adam Wainwright:Gets starting nod, barely, over L.A.’s Clayton Kershaw.

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Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 4th Qtr 3:56
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 17 4th Qtr 6:33
Oakland 19
Indianapolis 7 4th Qtr 0:30
Dallas 42
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 42 3rd Qtr
Miami 52
Detroit 51 3rd Qtr
Brooklyn 53
LA Lakers 57 2nd Qtr 0:02
Sacramento 52
Philadelphia 37 3rd Qtr
Orlando 42
Phoenix 50 3rd Qtr
Washington 50
Indiana 0 1st Qtr 10:37
Minnesota 3
New Orleans 3 1st Qtr 10:11
Oklahoma City 5
Colorado 0 2nd Prd 13:38
Detroit 0
Dallas 2 2nd Prd 12:28
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 0 1st Prd 16:57
Boston 0
Carolina 0 1st Prd 17:30
NY Rangers 0
Toronto 0 1st Prd 18:28
Chicago 0
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
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Kent State 6
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Texas-El Paso 6
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Colorado State 10
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Bowling Green 33
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So Carolina
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(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
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Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
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Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
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Brown 79
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Long Island 79
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Mount St Marys 49
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William & Mary 51
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Samford 56
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VA Commonwealth 64
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(5) Notre Dame 64
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Virginia Tech 73
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(4) Texas A&M 65
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Bryant 56
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TCU 79
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IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
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Iowa State 76
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Colgate 61
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(13) Duke 89
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Minnesota 67
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Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
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Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
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North Texas 38
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Oregon 59
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UNLV 71 FINAL
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(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 29 2nd Half 15:17
Virginia 44
Miami-Ohio 4 1st Half 13:45
(21) Miss State 8
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