1 of 3 | National League's Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals warms up during batting practice of the 87th All-Star Game at Petco Park in San Diego, California on July 11, 2016. Photo by Howard Shen/UPI | License Photo
SAN DIEGO - National League manager Terry Collins watched from the dugout as Johnny Cueto dominated in the 2015 World Series. On Tuesday, he hands the ball to Cueto as the starting pitcher against the American League in the 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Petco Park.
Collins, whose New York Mets were mowed down by the Kansas City Royals in the 2015 Fall Classic, said his decision to name Cueto, 13-1 with a 2.47 ERA in his first season with the San Francisco Giants, his starter was easy. The options narrowed with Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list and Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner ineligible because he started Sunday.
"I think his numbers speak for themselves," said Collins, recalling Cueto's complete game with the Royals in Game 2 of the World Series as a member of the Kansas City Royals. "That was the best outing I've ever seen him have."
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs, is contemplating not participating in Tuesday's game but not in protest of being skipped over for the start against Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale. Arrieta has lost three of his past four games as the Cubs slide into the break.
"The last three outings, I haven't pitched very well," he said. "If I had took care of business, I probably would have been the starter or considered a little more highly."
Sale was named AL starter by Royals manager Ned Yost. The 27-year-old power lefty has a record of 14-3 with a 3.38 ERA and 123 strikeouts. He said he plans to "let it eat" for an inning, and do so in part as a tribute to late Padres Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn.
"I chewed tobacco from 2007 until the day he passed away," Sale said. "I remember seeing that and just being so shocked. I quit that day and haven't touched it since. In a sense, I owe him a huge thank you for not only myself, but for my family. Hopefully I can maybe sway somebody in the right direction as well like he did for me."
The National League runs out a lineup led by former Royals second baseman Ben Zobrist - who signed with the Cubs in the offseason - and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in the No. 2 hole before third baseman Kris Bryant, one of five Cubs voted as starters in the All-Star Game. The entire Cubs' infield will back Cueto, the first time that has happened since the Big Red Machine in 1971. Miami Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna was named as an injury replacement for Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler.
Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is playing in his final All-Star game at age 40. Even the games young stars, like Harper, are admiring Big Papi's swan song. Ortiz hit 23 home runs in the first half of the season.
"To see what he's doing this year, at that age, just goes to show how mentally strong and physically strong he is," said Harper, who has 20 home runs and 34 doubles for the Nationals this season. "
The American League has a 10-3 record since the format changed to grant the winning league home-field advantage in the World Series, a benefit Yost has experienced. As manager of the team last July in Minneapolis, Yost said the win gave his team a "big advantage to go back to a place where we're completely comfortable."
Matt Cain started the All-Star game in 2012 and the Giants also produced National League starters in 2009 (Tim Lincecum) and 2003 (Jason Schmidt).