Catching up with Ken at the All-Star break

Major League Baseball has reached the halfway point of the season. The 82nd MLB All-Star Game will take place at Chase Field the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

Six of the 10 starting spots on the American League All-Stars belong to the Yankees and the Red Sox. In the fact the two A.L. East rivals combined will send 10 players to the mid-summer classic.

Ken Morse

That is hardly surprising since they both are fighting for first place in baseball’s toughest division. The New York Mets are not as fortunate. They will send only one starter, Jose Reyes, who will be the shortstop for the N.L. All-Stars.

The old adage in baseball is that good pitching will beat good hitting, at least 70 percent of the time anyways. Success in baseball is predicated on the fact that a 70 percent failure rate in batting will account for league leaders in most hitting categories.

With that in mind, there are 23 pitchers this year who are have under a 3.00 ERA, the most in 30 years. If the season ended today five of the eight-playoff teams from last year would be in the playoff party.

In my preseason predictions I stated that the Red Sox and the Phillies would no doubt be playing for the World Series. So far that assessment appears to be correct. The Red Sox lead all of baseball in scoring at 5.3 runs per game. The Phillies lead all of baseball allowing the least amount of runs at 3.2 per game.

So the stage is set for a season ending showdown and a World Series that will pit the best hitting team against the best pitching staff in all of baseball. Seems too good to be true.

Of course after the first week of the baseball season it certainly looked like I should be selling refrigerators instead of writing sports columns. The Red Sox stumbled out of the gate with their worst start since 1942.

Suddenly, it appeared that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Certainly not the first time that has happened, and it probably won’t be the last. But after a period of time baseball came to its senses and the Red Sox and Yankees were taking turns throwing each other under the bus.

Adrian Gonzalez who came over from the Padres has graced his new surroundings of friendly Fenway Park to put up a league leading .350 average and 74 RBIs. David Ortiz, who struggled the past two seasons out of the gate, is leading the team with 17 home runs, now that he has some protection in the batting order.

Jacoby Ellsbury is the third Boston batter who will play in the All-Star Game and he has again stabilized the top of the order with a .302 average, 57 runs scored and 26 stolen bases. Starting pitcher Josh Beckett is a front-runner for comeback player of the year and will join his teammates in Arizona next week sporting a 7-3 mark and a 2.12 ERA.

Robinson Cano at second base, Alex Rodriguez at third base, Derek Jeter at shortstop make up three quarters of the A.L. All-Stars starting infield. Curtis Granderson with 22 home runs will start in the outfield with relief pitcher Mariano Rivera and catcher Russell Martin also packing their bags for Arizona.

Jose Reyes is one of the few bright spots for the Mets so far this season as they struggle to stay in fourth place in the N.L. East. Reyes at .354 with 65 runs and 30 stolen bases isn’t enough to make the Mets a contender as I earlier predicted.

One prediction that doesn’t look like it will materialize is Baltimore over taking the Yankees for a playoff spot. Maybe I better bone up on the refrigerator idea. If that isn’t in my immediate future maybe a weatherman wouldn’t be too far off the scales. Being wrong 70 percent of the time would probably make me a very serviceable designated hitter, to say the least.

It certainly looks like the Red Sox and the Yankees are going to go down to a final weekend drama to decide the A.L. East. Both teams have overcome injuries and slumps to remain the teams to beat.

As we head into the second half of the season there is little question about the Phillies pitching. Roy Halladay leads all of baseball with a 123-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio to go along with 10 wins and a 2.40 ERA. He sets the pace for a strong group of pitchers for the N.L. All-Stars, which includes his teammates Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

There will be 13 first time All-Stars for the A.L. and 11 first timers for the N.L. Last year the N.L. won for the first time since 1996. My prediction for this year’s All-Star game might certainly push me into my new position as a refrigerator salesman.

The A.L. will be virtually shut down by the trio of Phillies pitchers. Trailing 10-2 the A.L. Stars will stage one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the midsummer classic. The A.L. will score 9 runs in the last three innings highlighted by Russell Martin’s pinch hit grand slam in a thrilling 11-10 win.

Now how’s that for a prediction? Could someone please show me where the refrigerator department is?

Ken Morse is a contributing sports writer for the Citizen’s News.