Let's take a look at the players from the Central who will make their way to the midsummer classic in Phoenix:
- St. Louis outfielder Lance Berkman, who's enjoying a resurgent season under the arch (.297 with 21 homers and 59 RBI), earned a starting spot in the NL outfield. Outfielder Matt Holliday and catcher Yadier Molina will join Berkman in Arizona, as both were selected as All-Star reserves.
- Three Reds also made the All-Star team: though Rickie Weeks beat out Brandon Phillips at second base and Prince Fielder edged Joey Votto at first base, Phillips and Votto were each chosen as reserves in player voting. Jay Bruce was also selected as a reserve.
- Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, who's been perfect this year in save opportunities (24 for 24), was voted in by the players and will appear in his first All-Star Game. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen appeared to be a deserving candidate, but he wasn't selected to the squad.
- Shortstop Starlin Castro was the lone Cub selected for the midsummer classic, unless you count Cryin' Mike Quade, who (for some reason) was tabbed as part of the NL coaching staff.
- Hunter Pence will represent Houston at the All-Star Game; Pence is hitting .323 with ten homers and 57 runs driven in for the moribund Astros.
Milwaukee couldn't protect a 6-1 lead in Minneapolis and lost a game it shouldn't have lost a day after winning a game it shouldn't have won. Our recap is here.
- St. Louis remained tied with the Crew atop the division thanks to an 8-3 loss to the Rays in Tampa. Tampa tagged Cardinal starter Kyle Lohse for five runs (four earned) in just 5.1 innings and then put the game to bed with a three-run eighth inning, thanks to an RBI double from John Jaso and a two-run triple off the bat of Johnny Damon. Damon was 3-for-5 on the day with four runs driven in, and Jeremy Hellickson worked 7.1 innings, scattering six hits and a walk while giving up three earned runs and improving his record to 8-7.
Pittsburgh chased Washington starter Jason Marquis from the game after 1.1 innings en route to a 10-2 whuppin' of the Nats on Sunday afternoon. The Bucs plated three in the first thanks to run-scoring singles by Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Lyle Overbay, and then tacked on five more runs in the second on the strength of doubles by Garrett Jones, McCutchen, and Overbay. For the day, McCutchen finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two driven in, and Overbay was 3-for-4 with three RBI. Kevin Correia picked up his 11th win on the year thanks to all that offense, as he limited the Nats to two runs on six hits in six innings.
- Cincinnati avoided a sweep at the hands of Cleveland with a 7-5 victory at Great American Ballpark. Fred Lewis was 2-for-4 with two runs driven in, Chris Heisey hit his ninth homer of the year in the second, and Edgar Renteria added a solo shot in the fifth. Mike Leake wasn't at his best, giving up four earned runs in six innings on four hits and two walks, but Aroldis Chapman and CoCo Cordero slammed the door on the Tribe: Chapman struck out two in his inning of work, and Cordero worked around a two-out single to secure his 17th save.
- The Cubs salvaged in a game in their series with the White Sox, using a three-run rally in the fourth inning to take a 3-1 decision over the Pale Hose at Wrigley Field. Starlin Castro drove in the first Cub run with a triple and Aramis Ramirez followed with a two-run homer, and that was all the offense Rodrigo Lopez needed: Lopez stymied the Sox for seven innings, giving up just two hits and no runs while striking out three. Carlos Marmol got the last four outs for his seventeenth save of the season.
Houston got swept by the Red Sox, falling 2-1 in the series finale at Minute Maid Ballpark. With the game tied at one in the top of the ninth, the BoSox scratched across the winning run when Kevin Youkilis drew a bases-loaded walk from Mark Melancon, who issued three bases on balls in his inning of work and was saddled with the loss. Josh Beckett worked eight strong innings for Boston, fanning 11 while giving up five hits and one run, and Jonathan Papelbon notched his 17th save by striking out the side in the ninth.
On tap for tonight:
- The Crew comes home after another disastrous road trip and tries to get healthy against Arizona. The action starts at 3:10 p.m. CDT this afternoon when Shaun Marcum (7-3, 3.16) takes on Daniel Hudson (9-5, 3.49).
- St. Louis hosts the Reds at 5:15 p.m. CDT at Busch Stadium, with Chris Carpenter (3-7, 4.00) facing Johnny Cueto (5-2, 1.84).
- The Pirates welcome the Astros to town for a three-game series. Game one starts at 12:35 p.m. CDT this afternoon and features Brett Myers (3-7, 4.60) and Paul Maholm (4-9, 3.17).
- The Cubs are in our nation's capital for a 12:05 p.m. CDT Independence Day matinee against the Nationals. Casey Coleman (2-4, 7.78) gets the ball for the Baby Bears, while Jordan Zimmermann (5-7, 2.63) is on the bump for Washington.