Saturday, July 6, 2013
Eddie Murray, 2011 Topps Diamond #651
There is plenty of other good news regarding Baltimore's representation in the Midsummer Classic. Adam Jones will make his first start in his third overall All-Star appearance, and J. J. Hardy's strong defense and 15 home runs assured him of his second All-Star Game (also his first as a starter) in a Jeterless American League landscape. This is the first time since 2005 that the O's have had any All-Star starters via fan vote, and the first time since 1997 that the Birds have had three starters. Back then, it was Brady Anderson, Roberto Alomar, and Cal Ripken, Jr. earning fan favor.
A fourth Oriole will represent the American League as a reserve, as Manny Machado celebrates his 21st birthday today by earning a slot backing up starting third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Young Manny is batting .315 with a major league-leading 39 doubles, but has the misfortune of sharing his position with the reigning A.L. Triple Crown winner and MVP. Machado does allow the O's to send four players to the All-Star Game for the first time since 2005, when Melvin Mora, Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, and B. J. Ryan all went to Detroit in early July.
There are a pair of disappointing absences, for different reasons. Nick Markakis fell about 200,000 votes short of Jose Bautista for the third and final starting outfield slot, so he's now in his eighth big league season without All-Star recognition. (Nate McLouth surged to fifth in the final vote, so it would seem that Baltimore fans were highly motivated this year.) Jim Johnson won't be going to Citi Field either, and with good reason: he blew his league-high sixth save last night after letting only three opportunities slip out of his hands in 2012. He's already walked one more batter than he did last year, and his earned run average is north of 4.00. If he were on his game throughout the first half of this season, the O's probably wouldn't be looking up at Boston and New York in the division standings. Thankfully, it's a long season, and there are still 74 games left to be played.