Forget the fact the 2013 MLB All-Star Game will determine home-field advantage in the World Series; the American League team just wants to get back on the winning side of things.
After a 13-year unbeaten streak from 1997 to 2009, the AL has lost three in a row to the National League, scoring a total of two runs over that span. The American League hopes that this year’s team can put a stop to its current losing streak in the Midsummer Classic.
Of course, it all starts with pitching, and 13-0 Max Scherzer is a good place to start as he has been the toast of the American League this year, overshadowing his Detroit Tigers teammate Justin Verlander, who is also a part of the AL All-Star Team. Verlander is merely sixth in the AL in strikeouts, but everybody ahead of him will also be at Citi Field next week, as the AL roster is packed with power pitchers ready to blow the NL away.
In addition to Scherzer and Verlander, Yu Darvish, Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale headline a pitching staff that will be responsible for shutting down the NL lineup.
If the American League can take a lead into the late innings, they should be in good position to close out the game with Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera, who have combined for 58 saves in 61 opportunities this season. The game may not be in Yankee Stadium, but it would be fitting to see Rivera take the mound in New York, in the bottom of the ninth of his final All-Star Game.
As good as the pitching staff looks, the AL is going to need to score some runs to win the game, especially after being shut out last year. Citi Field may be a big ballpark, but the AL is bringing plenty of power with them to help hit home runs. Chris Davis is obviously the headliner with 33 home runs and counting, but Miguel Cabrera and his 28 home runs will also give the AL team plenty of pop, as will the 20 apiece hit by All-Stars Robinson Cano and Jose Bautista.
If the AL wants power coming off the bench, they’ll look to Prince Fielder and Edwin Encarnacion to provide it, and if they want a contact hitter, they can go to Dustin Pedroia. Rounding out the AL bench are All-Stars both young and old, with veteran Torii Hunter making his fifth appearance and Manny Machado making his first of what will likely be many appearances in the Midsummer Classic.
From top to bottom, the AL roster is loaded with power, both in the batter’s box and on the mound. If the All-Star Game turns into a slugfest, expect the American League to have the advantage. But if the National League wants to play small ball in a close, low-scoring game, then the AL may not have the personnel on its roster to win that way, which could extend their All-Star Game losing streak to four straight games.