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A.L. A -122 FAVORITE TO EXTEND ALL-STAR REIGN
Tue, 13 Jul 2010 02:19 PM EDT

Other than a tie in the 2003 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Milwaukee, the American League has won every year since 1996. Since the advent of the rule giving home field advantage in the World Series to the winning league, the A.L. is 7-0, going on to win the Fall Classic four times. It’s been said that not only does the N.L. want to win on Tuesday, it NEEDS to. Oddsmakers at Sports.com expect the streak to continue however, installing the Junior Circuit as -122 favorites with a total of 8.5 OV-115. Let’s take a look at the all-important contest, with first pitch scheduled for a little after 8:30 PM ET.

Looking to finally break through after four consecutive one-run losses and rule the Midsummer Classic for the first time since ‘96, the NL appears well stocked for the challenge of claiming World Series home-field advantage at last for its league champion. In this year of the pitcher, the National League is downright loaded, even for an All-Star game, with the best of the best coming to Orange County on Tuesday night. Football Scores

Coincidence or not, the N.L. has not won an All-Star game with Derek Jeter of the Yankees in the opposing lineup. Jeter will again be the American League’s starting shortstop on Tuesday night, hitting second in the batting order.

The A.L. reign is starting to wear on players from the Senior Circuit. “This should be the year for us to go out there and hopefully end this drought,” Phillies’ 1B Ryan Howard said. “I’m getting tired of hearing about the American League winning and how long they’ve won, every year for the last 13 years or whatnot. Basically go out there and try to change it up.”

Howard is confident though, specifically because of the pitching that his team will have ready. There’s Colorado 15-game winner Ubaldo Jimenez starting at Angel Stadium. In the bullpen: Marlins ace Josh Johnson, Mr. perfect Roy Halladay and two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. And so on.

“We know everyone’s here to have a good time but at the same time our priority is to win the game,” Jimenez said. Jimenez, 15-1, has a 2.20 ERA in 18 starts and 127 innings for the surging Rockies.

The AL run is one of the more perplexing streaks in sports. Is it simply a quirk, or evidence of true dominance? The American League has ruled interleague play for several years, and also done well in the World Series, winning four of the last six titles. You’d think the NL might have caught a break at some point in a span of more than a decade, just getting one ball to bounce its way.

In 2008 at Yankee Stadium, the National League had 15 innings to make it happen and came up short. The previous year in San Francisco, a crazy ball off the wall gave Ichiro Suzuki the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star game history.

“This will be Charlie’s second straight year to try to beat that stupid American League jinx,” Phillies chairman Bill Giles said of the Philadelphia and NL skipper, Charlie Manuel. “Charlie, your job’s on the line, man.” The A.L. is led by Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi.

Tampa Bay lefty David Price will start Tuesday for the AL. Price is 12-4 with a 2.42 ERA.

The NL players believe it’s their turn to finally turn the page on this decade-old drought. Beating the AL will be a daunting task indeed. Big swings often decide the game. Still, with the likes of Albert Pujols and Howard on the NL side, it would look pretty even. Not according to oddsmakers though. Again, the N.L. is a +112 underdog according to Sportsbook.com. Perhaps that can serve as motivation above any other. Scores

“Now with what’s at stake,” said NL coach Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants, “the National League needs to stop this.”

Here are the starting lineups:

AL starters
1. I. Suzuki, RF, SEA
2. D. Jeter, SS, NYY
3. M. Cabrera, 1B, DET
4. J. Hamilton, CF, TEX
5. V. Guerrero, DH, TEX
6. E. Longoria, 3B, TB
7. J. Mauer, C, MIN
8. R. Cano, 2B, NYY
9. C. Crawford, LF, TB
SP: D. Price, LHP, TB

NL starters
1. H. Ramirez, SS, FLA
2. M. Prado, 2B, ATL
3. A. Pujols, 1B, STL
4. R. Howard, DH, PHI
5. D. Wright, 3B, NYM
6. R. Braun, LF, MIL
7. A. Ethier, CF, LA
8. C. Hart, RF, MIL
9. Y. Molina, C, STL
SP: U. Jimenez, RHP, COL

The mid-summer classic might be the only baseball game of the year that compares to the NFL’s Super Bowl when it comes to betting options available. Take a look at some of what’s available for tonight from Sports.com:

TOTAL RUNS+ HITS + ERRORS BY BOTH TEAMS COMBINED
Over/Under 27½

TEAM TO SCORE FIRST
NATIONAL LEAGUE -140
AMERICAN LEAGUE +110

EITHER TEAM SCORE IN THE FIRST INNING
YES -110
NO -120

TEAM TO HAVE MORE EXTRA BASE HITS (2B, 3B, HR)
NATIONAL LEAGUE +105
AMERICAN LEAGUE -135

TOTAL NUMBER OF HOMERUNS HIT BY BOTH TEAMS
OVER – 1½-170
UNDER – 1½+140

PLAYER TO HAVE MOST TOTAL BASES (TOTAL BASES ARE COUNTED IN THE AT BAT HITS ONLY)5:20 PM H RAMIREZ -130
D JETER EV

PLAYER TO HAVE MOST TOTAL BASES
A PUJOLS -105
J HAMILTON -125

PLAYER TO HAVE MOST TOTAL BASES
D WRIGHT -125
E LONGORIA -105

PLAYER TO HAVE MOST TOTAL HITS
R BRAUN -105
I SUZUKI -125

The list goes on and on. Be sure to check Sports.com or your favorite book for the available. As for the game, the A.L. has the stronger hitting lineup, the N.L. the better pitching staff. Which wins out? It probably makes little sense to fade the streak. NFL Scores

Prediction: A.L. 5, N.L. 3


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