And on the fifth day, he said, "Let there be baseball," and then there was baseball. The All Star Break is finally over and once again, the grand game of baseball gets back into the swing of things on a relentless pace that will not end until the end of October.
I kept a four year tradition of picking the All Star Game incorrectly. Hey, if you are only going to have one game to pick in a four day span, you might as well get it wrong. Home field advantage in the World Series can make a huge difference though, so the American League gets the nod this year.
Just to make sure today is not like some opening day like feel, every team is in action and they are all night games. I am back in the saddle and these are your Friday picks:
- The Nationals over the Dodgers: This is a big game for both teams. Both would like to make a charge in the second half and get where they were predicted to get by the end. Ricky Nolasco has been good for the Dodgers. And I am sure he feels like he has a new life. Stephen Strasburg will need to come up big in the second half for the Nats. Going with the home team.
- The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: Another round in the battle of the Ays. The Blue Jays will have a big say in who is going to win the AL East and wild cards. And they are not going to be easy to beat at home. But on any given day, you have to pick David Price over Esmil Rogers.
- The Red Sox over the Yankees: Why do the Yankees have to wait until Monday to get A-Rod back? I will never understand how long these rehab things take. Will Jeter be back tonight? No word on that yet. With those questions unanswered, the fact remains that lefties are fatal for the current Yankees. Felix Doubront over Andy Pettitte.
- The Mets over the Phillies: The Phillies still think they have playoff aspirations. I will believe it when I see it. Other than Domenic Brown, what is there? Jeremy Hefner over Kyle Kendrick.
- The Reds over the Pirates: A very interesting match-up. Mike Leake is unpredictable but has been more good than bad. Francisco Liriano has been very good but the memories of his meltdowns are hard to forget. I am going with the Reds at home.
- The Rangers over the Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen came back from the disabled list with a very effective game last time out. So this pick might end up paying for it if the Rangers cannot score. But Derek Holland is also capable of shutting down the Orioles too. Another interesting game.
- The Braves over the White Sox: The Braves get an extra hitter (is Gattis back?) and have Tim Hudson on the mound. John Danks has looked pretty good since coming back, but his mates have to score. Hudson is the deciding factor.
- The Tigers over the Royals: I would normally always pick Anibal Sanchez over Ervin Santana. But if this game stays close, the Royals have the better bullpen. It probably won't stay close.
- The Brewers over the Marlins: Jacob Turner has been very good for the Marlins and looks like he might be on his way to fulfilling his promise. But I like the old pro, Kyle Lohse at home in Milwaukee too much to pick against him.
- The Astros over the Mariners: The last two times I have picked against Joe Saunders, I have paid for it. But I am a stubborn coot. Not that I like Bud Norris that much better, but at home, he has a chance and Houston has a bigger right-field porch than left.
- The Cardinals over the Padres: Jason Marquis has not won a game in a month and four days. But the Cardinals' old friend has not pitched badly. His team has not scored for him. Jake Westbrook at least gives the Padres a fighting chance. But I still like the Cardinals at home.
- The Rockies over the Cubs: Jeff Samardzija did not look good at all in his last start. He got rocked in fact. Following up that performance at Coors Field does not make me feel at all like that will go well either. Jorge De La Rosa knows how to pitch at Coors.
- The Angels over the Athletics: A.J. Griffin, like the A's has been on a bit of a roll. But I would have to think twice or three times before picking against Jered Weaver at home. The Angels' ace has been awfully quiet this summer. I think he will be loud in the second half.
- The Giants over the Diamondbacks: Chad Gaudin. I am picking Chad Gaudin? Oy. But he is at home and the Diamondbacks are pitching Ian Kennedy who has not looked good at all. Kennedy does have a bit of a history having big second halves though.
And the Game of the Day:
- The Indians over the Twins: I went with Scott Kazmir in his last outing and he rewarded me for the pick. So I am sticking with him this outing too. The Twins counter with Mike Pelfrey who needs a whole lot of "at em" balls to succeed.
The All Star Game: 0-1
Games of the Day: 63-40