The All-Star break doesn’t last long in real terms, but it can seem like a significant gap as we are used to enjoying a bundle of games every single day.
Now the break has come and gone, we can get right back to the daily dose of action.
Today’s batch of ‘early’ games give UK-based fans a chance to watch some of the top teams battle it out during the British evening.
All times are in BST.
18.05. Philadelphia at Chicago Cubs (Cole Hamels – Randy Wells) * ESPN America
The Phillies and Cubs played out an entertaining back-and-forth game in the only early contest yesterday. With the game tied at 1-1 in the top of the sixth, Ryan Howard smacked a 444 feet homer off the top of the batter’s eye in centre field to give the Phils a 3-1 lead. Marlon Byrd levelled things up in the bottom of the frame with a two-run shot of his own, circling the bases in typically rapid fashion, before Aramis Ramirez broke the deadlock in the eighth inning with a solo blast. A one-run lead was all that Cubs closer Carlos Marmol needed and his nasty fastball/slider combination was too good for Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard and Ben Francisco, who were retired in order to send the locals home happy. The starting pitcher match-up of Hamels versus Wells should make for another good contest today.
18.05. Detroit at Cleveland (Justin Verlander – Fausto Carmona)
The Indians might be in the AL Central cellar and firmly in rebuilding mode, but they’ll take plenty of pleasure from playing the spoiler role over the rest of this season. They did just that yesterday as Austin Kearns and former top prospect Andy Marte both went deep in an 8-2 win for the Tribe. Verlander hasn’t displayed his best form yet this season but he still leads the Tigers’ pitching staff and is more than capable of having a dominant second half. Fausto Carmona has been the Indians best starter this season and his name has been mentioned as a possible trade target for contending teams.
21.10. Tampa Bay at NY Yankees (Jeff Niemann – A.J.Burnett) * ESPN America
It was an emotional night in the Bronx on Friday as Yankee Stadium paid its respects to former owner George Steinbrenner and announcer Bob Sheppard, both of whom passed away recently. A walk-off win seemed a fitting way to end the game and that duly arrived courtesy of a game-winning single by Nick Swisher to give the Yankees a 5-4 victory over their AL East rivals. The inconsistent A.J. Burnett is trying to get his season back on track after a dreadful June (5 games, 5 losses with a 11.35 ERA), while Jeff Niemann is scheduled to make the start for the Rays after dealing with some soreness in his back. David Price made the All-Star start thanks to his 12-4 record and a 2.42 ERA, but Niemann has been just as good for the Rays so far this season.
21.10. LA Dodgers at St. Louis (Hiroki Kuroda – Adam Wainwright)
The Cardinals closed to within half a game of the Cincinnati Reds at the top of the NL Central after beating the Dodgers 8-4 yesterday. Yadier Molina made the 2010 NL All-Star starting lineup on reputation as he struggled at the plate during the first half, but a 2-for-4 game with a home run and 4 RBIs last night gives the Cards’ hope that his will be a season of two different halves for the popular backstop. Neither starter lasted long yesterday, with St. Louis’s Jaime Garcia being pulled out of the game after 3.1 innings and the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley leaving after 4. Adam Wainwright has been outstanding yet again for the Cardinals this season so they will expect a strong outing from him today. Hiroki Kuroda has been a dependable option for the Dodgers’ manager Joe Torre, despite a bad start two games ago against the D-Backs (1.2 innings, 6 earned runs conceded), so maybe the pitchers will be on top today?
All the above games can be followed via various resources on MLB.com (Gameday, At Bat with Gameday Audio and MLB.tv). ESPN America is showing two live games back-to-back this evening, as noted above. A complete schedule of MLB games can be found on MLB.com