AL stars try to continue winning ways

AL stars try to continue winning ways

AL stars try to continue winning ways
July 10th, 2007

(Sports Network) - The American League will try to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games over the National League when the respective All-Star teams battle Tuesday in the 78th edition of the Mid-Summer Classic at AT&T Park.

This marks the first All-Star Game in San Francisco since Candlestick Park played host in 1984 and the third time the city has housed the event since the Giants moved west in 1958.

The American League has not lost to the National League since 1996, collecting nine wins during that stretch and battling to a 7-7 tie in the 2002 game that was called after 11 innings when both squads ran out of pitchers. Last season, the AL All-Stars rallied for a 3-2 victory at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.

The longest win streak in the All-Star Game is 11, held by the Senior Circuit from 1972-1982. The AL is actually 15-3-1 in the last 19 All-Star Games and has not lost since falling 6-0 at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium back in 1996.

Oddly enough, though, the scores of the previous 77 contests add up to 326 runs for the AL and 326 for the NL. However, during the unbeaten streak, the AL has outscored its counterparts, 63-38.

This also marks the fifth straight year that the All-Star Game will determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.

On Monday, American League skipper Jim Leyland of Detroit named Oakland righty Dan Haren as the team's starting pitcher for tonight's contest. Haren has emerged as the Athletics' ace this season with Rich Harden on the shelf. In 19 starts Haren is 10-3 with an AL-leading 2.30 ERA. He also leads the league in opponents' batting average against at .205.

"It was a tough choice," Leyland stated about selecting Haren from what he said was a list of five that likely included Cleveland lefty C.C. Sabathia and Detroit righty Justin Verlander.

Leyland added that the site of the All-Star Game factored into his decision.

"I'd be lying if I said that I felt that there wasn't a nice extra touch since he pitches right across the bay," Leyland remarked. "Truthfully, if this game was in Cleveland, it would probably be Sabathia, and if was in Detroit it could be Verlander."

Haren, making his first All-Star appearance, will be the sixth Oakland pitcher to start an All-Star Game, following Mark Mulder (2004), Bob Welch (1990), Dave Stewart (1989), Vida Blue (1971, '75) and Catfish Hunter (1973).

Meanwhile, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, who will be guiding the NL, announced that San Diego right-hander Jake Peavy would start the game for the Senior Circuit.

"It's a great honor to be chosen," said Peavy. "I'm going to go as long and hard as I can until Tony shakes my hand."

Peavy, who joins Randy Jones (1976) and LaMarr Hoyt (1985) as the other Padres to open the All-Star Game, is 9-3 this season with a 2.19 earned run average and an NL-leading 125 strikeouts for first-place San Diego. He is making his second All-Star appearance, having pitched two-thirds of an inning in the 2005 contest.

The rest of the starting lineups were also announced by both managers during a Monday press conference.

The American League will open with Seattle center fielder Ichiro Suzuki, who will be followed by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Boston Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz and Yankees third baseman and leading vote-getter Alex Rodriguez.

Angels slugger and new Home Run Derby champion Vladimir Guerrero will bat fifth and play right field, with three Detroit Tigers next. Magglio Ordonez will hit sixth and play left field, opposite his normal position of right, and will be followed by Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez and second baseman Placido Polanco. Haren will bat ninth.

Ivan Rodriguez will be making his 12th start behind the plate, breaking Yogi Berra's record of 11. This will be his 14th overall All-Star appearance, which will tie him with Berra for the most-ever appearances by a catcher.

New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes will lead off for the National League and will be followed by San Francisco left fielder Barry Bonds. Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran is slated to bat third, followed by Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. in right field and Mets third baseman David Wright.

Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder, Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley and Peavy round out the batting order for the Senior Circuit.

"I think it's a good combination of left and rights, speed and power, and outstanding hitters with an outstanding starting pitcher," said La Russa.

Bonds, who of course is four homers shy of tying Hank Aaron's home run record of 755, will no doubt be honored by his hometown fans tonight, as he becomes the oldest player to ever start the game. At 42 years, 11 months and 15 days, Bonds is older than Pete Rose, who opened the contest for the NL in 1982 at 41 years, two months and 32 days.

Leyland has said he will pitch to Bonds and La Russa wants him to hit early and often, so Bonds will be in the two-hole for the first time since his second season in 1987, while in Pittsburgh.

Like Haren, Fielder will also be making his first All-Star appearance. His father Cecil played in three Mid-Summer Classics, making them the 12th father- son combo to play in the contest.

In addition to the two mentioned above, 16 other players will be making their initial appearance in the contest.

In the AL, Polanco, Verlander, Boston's Josh Beckett and Hideki Okajima, the Angels' John Lackey, Seattle's J.J. Putz and reigning MVP Justin Morneau of the Twins will be playing in the game for the first time.

While in the NL, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels and Aaron Rowand, Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy, the Dodgers' Martin and Takashi Saito, Chris Young of San Diego and Arizona's Jose Valverde and Orlando Hudson round out the list of first-timers.

Okajima, who was voted in by the fans as the final member on the AL roster, is the only rookie in the contest. His inclusion also gave the Red Sox a league- best six players in the game.

La Russa, who is 3-1 as an All-Star manager, is trying to become the first skipper to win the game in both leagues. He won three games with the AL from 1989-91, but lost his only NL assignment in 2005. A win tonight would also tie him for the third most all-time with Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel. Walter Alston holds the record with seven.

Next year's All-Star Game will be contested at Yankee Stadium in the final year of the building.

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