Lefty-laden AL lineup stacked for Washington
All-Star manager tries to strike correct balance vs. NL's Halladay
PHOENIX -- Second baseman Robinson Cano is hitting .296, with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs for the Yankees. He normally bats fifth in the Yankees' lineup, but he will be batting eighth for the American League on Tuesday night.Because of that, AL manager Ron Washington felt compelled to give fair warning to his National League counterpart, Bruce Bochy, going into the 82nd All-Star Game at Chase Field. "You have Robinson Cano hitting eighth, so all I can say is, 'Watch out, Bruce,'" Washington said in introducing his starting lineup Monday morning. That lineup includes Angels right-hander Jered Weaver as Washington's starting pitcher and Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson as his leadoff hitter against NL right-handed starter Roy Halladay. Granderson has had success against Halladay in the past, going 6-for-16 with two home runs against him. Granderson is the first of seven left-handed hitters that Halladay will have to work through during his time on the mound. That works for the AL, at least at the start of the game. Left-handed hitters are hitting .274 off of Halladay this season, while right-handed hitters are batting .205.
Granderson will be followed by Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista and Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton.The bottom half of the order will be Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre in the sixth spot, followed by Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, Cano and Tigers catcher Alex Avila. Missing are Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter. Both won spots in the lineup through fan balloting, but have dropped out of the game. Cabrera and Beltre, both next in line in their respective positions for the fan voting, were named to the starting lineup as replacements. "The fans and the players did a great job putting the American League team together," Washington said. "I just hope I can stay out of the way."
AL STARTING NINE
Washington still had to put together an order of appearance for his hitters. His biggest concern was striking some balance in a left-handed-dominated lineup. Six of the nine starters swing from the left side. Beltre and Bautista are the right-handers and Cabrera is a switch-hitter who will bat left-handed against Halladay."I looked at it and it was filled with run producers," Washington said. "It's heavy with left-handed hitters, so I thought I would do as much as I could to balance it out. Granderson, one swing of the bat, he can get you a run. Cabrera is a switch-hitter, so he fits there. From that point on, Bautista, Hamilton, Beltre, Ortiz, Cano -- those guys produce runs." As a group, the AL lineup has not fared badly against Halladay over the years. Combined, the AL starters are hitting .264 in their careers against Halladay, with 60 hits in 227 at-bats. They have 16 doubles, one triple and 10 home runs off him for a .491 slugging percentage. Avila is the only one who has never faced Halladay. Ortiz is the opposite. He has more at-bats (99), home runs (six) and RBIs (24) against Halladay than any other opponent. Halladay will likely pitch just one or two innings. If Bochy wants to bring in a left-hander after Halladay to offset the AL heavyweight left-handed bats, he has Cliff Lee of the Phillies and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers to follow Halladay. Left-handed hitters are batting .195 off Lee and .191 off Kershaw. Bochy's only other left-handed pitcher is Braves reliever Jonny Venters. But he'll likely be used late after most of the starters are out of the game.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.