The Lineup: Jason Hammel vs. R.A. Dickey in the All-Star Game?
It's 3 Up, 3 Down; On Deck; Pepper ... It is The Lineup for Saturday, June 23, starring Jason Hammel, the Cardinals, Ike Davis, the Angels, the Beltway Series and much more.
Hey, none of the other major sports are in season anymore! It's all Major League Baseball, all the time. As well it should always be. Is it time to dive in to The Lineup? Yep, take the plunge ...
Full Friday scoreboard with box scores and recaps for every game
Jason Hammel , Baltimore Orioles : Did anyone in the world predict a Jason Hammel vs. R.A. Dickey matchup to start the All-Star Game? No chance. If you say you did, you're lying. That's what's great about baseball -- the unpredictability. Because we may just be headed in that direction. Hammel spun another gem Friday night, holding the Washington Nationals to just five hits and one unearned run over the course of eight innings. He struck out 10. He's now 8-2 with a 2.61 ERA and hasn't allowed an earned run in his past 19 innings. Oh, and then there's this: Per Dan Donnolly of the Baltimore Sun, Hammel is the first Orioles pitcher since Scott Erickson (in 1997) to have back-to-back outings of at least eight innings pitched and zero earned runs.
St. Louis Cardinals ' offense: Evidently they didn't want to fall below .500 for the first time this season. The Cardinals utterly destroyed Vin Mazzaro and the Kansas City Royals right out of the gate, scoring 10 runs in the first two innings. In all, they pounded out 17 hits, including six doubles and scored 11 runs.
Ike Davis , New York Mets : It's been a really rough year for Davis, but he has been showing some signs of life lately. Friday night, he came through with the big blow in a 5-run Mets' first inning -- a three-run shot off Andy Pettitte just past the outstretched glove of Nick Swisher . The Mets would win by two. Insert "it's a game of inches" cliche here.
Doug Fister , Detroit Tigers : He could have been far, far worse. Still, Fister allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings to one of the worst offensive clubs in the majors. Two of the runs were unearned, but Fister himself was at fault due an errant throw to third base -- which Delmon Young subsequently mishandled and made worse, but if Fister makes the play, Delmon remains in the background.
Anibal Sanchez , Miami Marlins : The Marlins desperately need someone to go out and put a stop to the bleeding. It was not Sanchez Friday night, as he had an awful outing, giving up seven hits, six earned runs and four walks in 3 1/3 innings. He was removed from the game after walking Colby Rasmus to load the bases for Jose Bautista ... and then walking in a run. The Marlins are now 4-15 in June.
Chicago Cubs pitchers: Brad Ziegler and David Hernandez -- Diamondbacks relief pitchers -- each collected his first career hit Friday night against the Cubs. That's pretty embarrassing.
Battle Los Angeles, Day 2: One might say Game 1 of this series was a microcosm for how the season went. The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the game coming off being swept by the A's and not much was expected of them. The Los Angeles Angels came in hot, riding high with hype. The Dodgers jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but then the Angels outscored them 8-0 the rest of the way. Despite still having an inferior overall record, it's pretty obvious the Angels are the much better team right now. Still, there are two more games in this series, which is plenty of time for the Dodgers to turn the tide. It's Chris Capuano (8-2, 2.71) vs. Ervin Santana (4-7, 5.16). 7:15 p.m. ET
Cueto the streak-stopper? The Cincinnati Reds have lost four in a row and now hold just a tenuous one-game lead over those pesky Pittsburgh Pirates . Johnny Cueto (8-3, 2.38) is the Reds' ace, and they need him to act as such Saturday against the Minnesota Twins . Brian Duensing (1-2, 3.12) gets the ball for Minnesota. 4:10 p.m. ET
Beltway Series! I don't exactly root for anything to happen during the baseball season, aside for excitement and a hope for zero major injuries, but changing things up atop the standings is always a good mix. And if the playoffs started right now, both the Nationals and Orioles would be in. That's pretty cool. The two square off Saturday in Baltimore with Edwin Jackson (3-4, 3.02) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (7-2, 3.36) being the pitching matchup. 7:15 p.m. ET
Saturday's probable pitchers
• Blacked Out: I've beaten this subject into the ground the past several years, but here is Jeff Passan of Yahoo.com on MLB's archaic blackout rules. The best line? "Preying on the very consumer who wants to buy your product seems like the antithesis of good business sense, and yet baseball has done nothing to change its tack." Well said, Jeff.
• Swinging at the first pitch: Getting Blanked breaks down how hitters have fared this season on every single count possible, and concludes that swinging at the first pitch is a really good idea. I mean, who wouldn't want to hit .328/.335/.529? On the flip-side, the league is hitting .144/.151/.216 on an 0-2 count.
• Johan owns New York Yankees : Johan Santana has been given a key to the city of New York. Not too shabby.
• Goodbye Shane? There is rightfully tons more focus on Cole Hamels ' possibly leaving the Philadelphia Phillies after the season as a free agent, but might Shane Victorino walk, too? CSNPhilly.com discusses the possibility.
• Sign her! We'll let San Diego Padres ' ballgirl Lisa take us home ...