If the Tampa Bay Rays somehow make the World Series, they will have home field advantage after the American League took the All-Star Game by a score of 5-3. That’s nice. No current Ray actually appeared in the game after David Price had to withdraw, so that was moderately disappointing. The good news, though, was that two former Rays got into the contest: Oakland Athletics lefty Scott Kazmir looking as dominant as ever, and Seattle Mariners closer Fernando Rodney reminded Rays fans of 2013.
Kazmir struck out some guy named Giancarlo Stanton on a nasty slider, and after allowing a double to Aramis Ramirez, he forced Dee Gordon to ground out on another slider before departing. He wasn’t exactly the Scott Kazmir Rays fans are used to–he did show the great slider and touch 95 MPH with his fastball, but his changeup has gotten a lot better and he no longer tries as hard to overpower hitters with his four-seamer. Nevertheless, that’s a good thing. The pitcher Kazmir used to be was coming apart even before the injuries and bizarre collapse, leaving starts early and driving Rays fans everywhere nuts even as the team was hitting its stride in 2008. Now he has a far more advanced repertoire, and at 30 years old he could have several more strong years ahead.
Rodney, meanwhile, put fans of the AL team on the edge of the seats, and not in a good way. He walked Todd Frazier on four pitches to put the tying runs on base for the National League, failing to touch even higher than 92 MPH. His fastball touched any higher than that just once, but luckily for everyone, he struck out Daniel Murphy on a nasty changeup to end the inning. For Rodney, it was not pretty, but he accomplished what he did so often last year for the Rays, battling through despite inconsistent command and even stuff. It became clear last season, that Rodney wouldn’t have it for a few too many of his appearances, but he found a way to have an excellent second half before a rough finish to his Rays tenure. With Rays fans getting the chance to root for him again, Rodney showcased the bad, but came through with the good on his way to shooting his arrow at the end of the inning. Congratulations to him on that.