Parting contestants on Sox Appeal will recieve these 2011 American League All-Star Jerseys from Russel Athletic- AP PhotoRED SOX: Boston headed into the All Star break with a 1-game lead over the Yankees after finishing up a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in a 4-game series that could be described as confrontational.
A source of concern given his last couple of starts, John Lackey threw 6⅔ innings of shutout baseball on Saturday's 4-0 win against Baltimore. Sunday's game wasn't quite the same story, with PawSox callup Kyle Weiland only lasting 4 innings and giving up 6 runs in the top of the 2nd. The Sox were able to surge ahead and win by an 8-6 final for the final game of the first half.
Although the Red Sox have yet to play a game in the second half, they made some headlines today when MLB handed down four game suspensions to both David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg for their brawl (or attempted brawl) Friday night. The league also handed down one game suspensions to O's Pitcher Mike Gonzalez and manager Buck Showalter after the pitcher threw at Ortiz on Sunday's game. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and John Lackey also recieved fines for their role when the benches cleared Friday night.
No word yet on whether Gregg or Ortiz plan on appealing their suspensions.
On a side note, the Red Sox have yet to play an inning in the second half of the 2011 season, but have already gained an additional half game on the Yankees after the Blue Jays thumped the Bronx Bombers by a 16-7 final at the Rogers Centre Thursday night. MLB network is reporting that this is the most number of runs scored in Blue Jays history without hitting a home run.
ALL STAR GAME: The All Star festitivities in Phoenix got underway with the Yankee's Robinson Cano besting Boston's Adiran Gonzalez in the Home Run Derby on Monday.
On Tuesday night, Gonzalez would provide the AL with their only run on the evening with a solo shot off of Philly's Cliff Lee in the top of the 4th inning to briefly put the AL on top 1-0. Beckett never made his scheduled appearence after being scratched from the midsummer classic after experienceing lingering soreness in his knee.
The NL would take the lead for good in the bottom of the 4th thanks to a 3-run shot off the bat of Milwaukee's Prince Fielder (who could very well have out Brian Wilson-ed Brian Wilson in the facial hair category). The NL would go on to win by a final of 5-1 and secure home field advantage for the World Series this year.
ELSEWHERE IN MLB: Between the weather and the matchup against Tampa Bay, I was having my doubts whether or not it would happen before the All-Star break, but Yankees captain Derek Jeter had reached the 3000 hit milestone. Firday night's game in the Bronx was rained out and wouldn't be made up until September and there was some doubts that the weather would hold for Saturday's game. However, the weather cooperated and Jeter was batting leadoff, getting hit #2999 in the bottom of the first.
Hit #3000 would come in the form of a game-tying solo homer in the bottom of the 3rd, making Jeter the first Yankees player to reach the 3000 hits milestone [kind of surprising, given the Hall of Famers that have put on pinstripes in the past- NANESB!]. Jeter went 5 for 5 with 2 RBI on the day in New York's 5-4 win over Tampa.
Heading into the All-Star Break, the Yankees captain surpassed the late Roberto Clemente for career hits and is closing in on Detroit's Al Kaline and his mark of 3007.
A rather disturbing side note to all this (which the NY media is treating as rather whimsical) is that the fan who caught Jeter's 3000th hit ball might have the IRS after him now that the Yankees have lavished luxury box seats and autographed memorobilia on him in exchange for the ball.
Yankees fan Christian Lopez, a 23 year old Verizon salesman from Highland Mills, NY was willing to return the ball to the team for free, but the Yankees decided to treat him and his family to luxury box seats for the remaining home games this season as well as autographed bats, balls and jerseys- all with an estimated value in excess of $30,000. While the Jeter ball would've easily fetched six figures on the open market, some say the IRS may view the seats given to Lopez as income, citing contestants on The Price is Right being taxed for some of their prizes as precedent [which makes no sense- there's some reasonable expectation you could walk away from a game show with thousands of dollars. No so much an afternoon at the ballpark. Trust me- NANESB!]
FIFA WOMEN'S WORLD CUP- What did I miss? Just about everything, it turns out. The USA Women's team has been doing quite well in the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany this week (minus vuvuzelas, hopefully). The USA's Alex Kreiger helped the USA advance past Brazil in the quarterfinals in the penalty shot phase of the game to break a 2-2 deadlock on Saturday.
On Wednesday, they knocked out France in the semifinals by a 3-1 final. The win earns them a trip to the finals where they take on Japan for the title, after the Japanese team downed Sweden- also by a 3-1 margin- to advance.