Even for fans who only check in during October, the MLB All-Star game is always a magical time. Just a few days removed from Germany winning the World Cup, all sports fans have to rely on now, at least for the next five weeks until football starts, is baseball. For one night, MLB had the attention of the entire sports world, as the American League came out and earned a 5-3 victory. Not only did this year’s game determine who will get home field advantage in the World Series, but it also marked the last time that an MLB Hall Of Famer would walk onto the diamond. Here is a look at some of the excitement from the evening, as well as what teams to keep an eye on as we enter the second half of the season.
The New York Yankee’s Derrick Jeter was given a standing ovation during player announcements before the game. After 20 years in the majors, the face of the franchise for the Yankees played in his last All-Star Game in Dallas. Not only did Jeter get the fans riled up during introductions, but he also started out the first inning with a diving catch and throw on the NL’s Andrew McCutchen. Although the Pirate’s outfielder was called safe, it was definitely a bang-bang play that Jeter thought he had.
Jeter made things only better in the bottom of the first, when he hit a double into right field during his first appearance at the plate. While on second, Jeter would come home on a Mike Trout triple to right, scoring the first run of the game. With Trout still on base, Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homerun to give the AL a quick 3-0 lead after one inning.
The American league would start climbing back in the 2nd when Alexi Ramirez scored off a Chase Utley double. Utley would then score when Jonathan Lucroy hit a double of his own. In the 4th inning, Lucroy would double again, allowing Dee Gordon to score.
But as things went into the 5th, the AL would tally two more, taking the 5-3 advantage that they’d end the game with.
The night may have belonged to Jeter, even though other players had equally as impressive evenings, but it’s now time that he looks forward to the rest of this season. His Yankees are 5 games behind Baltimore for the AL East lead. The Yankees currently find themselves at 30/1 odds to win the World Series this year, something Jeter hasn’t done since 2009.
The team that has the best odds to win the World Series as we move into he second half of the season is the Oakland Athletics. In an AL West division that also includes the Rangers, Mariners and Angels, not many people expected the A’s to be at the top of the MLB, which is where they currently find themselves. But instead of walking into the season as a surprise team, the rest of the league will now have the A’s circled on their calendar during the second half of the season. The Angels have the fourth-best odds in the league at 11/1, so they’ll be working diligently to make up the 1.5-game differential that they find themselves in.
The Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves atop the NL West by one game, as well as at 5/1 odds to win this year’s World Series. The Giants are the only other team in the West that are contending with LA, but San Francisco finds themselves at 15/1 odds to be champions for the second time in the last three seasons.
The Kansas City Royals had a stretch back in May when they were taking the AL Central by storm. However, things have cooled down for KC and the Detroit Tigers now have a comfortable 6-game lead in the division. The Tigers also have the third-best odds to win the World Series at 6/1.
Behind the Tigers are the Washington Nationals at 11/1 odds. The team that represented the National League in the World Series last year, the St. Louis Cardinals, are at 12/1; the same as the Milwaukee Brewers.
As for last year’s champions, the Boston Red Sox are currently in last place in the AL East, 9.5 games behind Baltimore. They also sit at a 60/1 odds to make a wicked comeback and repeat as champs.
It’s about this time each year that MLB playoff races start to heat up and each game becomes much more important. Be sure to check in with sportspicks.com handicappers throughout the remainder of the season for insight and odds.