The pitchers and reserves for the American League All-Star team will be announced in six days, and the league’s best team will be watching closely with fans not embracing them in the ballot box.
Cole Hamels and Ian Desmond might not be watching, with each having been there and done that previously in his career. As dedicated as they are to getting their bodies and minds in the best shape possible to perform their best, they do it as much for their team as themselves.
The team’s success might be a bigger impetus.
But after the first three months of the season, Hamels and Desmond have become the Texas Rangers’ top candidates for the All-Star Game. They showed why again Tuesday night.
Hamels scattered six singles in seven scoreless innings to improve to 9-1 with a 2.60 ERA, and Desmond went 3 for 5 to up his team-leading average to .326 and scored twice as the Rangers rolled past the New York Yankees 7-1.
Those numbers, and the Rangers’ success as the team with the best record (51-27) in MLB, should be a formula that gets Hamels and Desmond to Petco Park.
“To be honest, I think about it for other guys,” Desmond said. “For me personally, I’m just happy to be winning. I’ve been putting together a good year. Whatever happens happens. I think everyone in here is deserving because we have the best record in baseball.”
Third baseman Adrian Beltre, another All-Star candidate at a loaded position, was the offense’s star, connecting for a two-run homer in the first and driving in the first run in a five-run eighth that broke open a pitchers duel between Hamels and CC Sabathia.
Prince Fielder went 2 for 4 with an RBI double as he and Desmond extended their hitting streaks to 10 games. Desmond sat fifth in the league in hitting entering Tuesday, was tied for fifth in runs scored and tied for 10th in RBIs.
But the Rangers’ success this season has been built on their starting rotation, and Hamels has been the best of the bunch. He has won four consecutive decisions after a couple of May hiccups and has allowed only two earned runs over his past 27 2/3 innings.
Hamels sits in the top 10 in a number of categories, including ERA, innings pitched and pitchers WAR, and he admitted that he set one of his goals this season to be in a position to be in the All-Star Game in the city where he was raised.
But he acknowledged that he didn’t get to that position by himself.
“If there a chance to make an All-Star team in your hometown, that’s always on your list, and I think that’s one of the be achievements you can have,” Hamels said. “It’s been fun to be on this kind of team because they’re the ones that allow you to get into that kind of position.”
Hamels seemed in control throughout, though he didn’t have a 1-2-3 inning until the sixth. All six hits against him, including three that didn’t leave the infield, came over the first five innings, and the Yankees had only two shots against him with a runner in scoring position.
Their best chance came in the fourth after consecutive one out singles, but Beltre ended the threat by snagging Aaron Hicks’ line drive and throwing to second to double off Didi Gregorius to end the inning.
“He was as good as I’ve seen him,” said Yankees third baseman Chase Headley, who had two of the infield hits. “I’ve seen him a lot, and he was as good as I’ve seen him.”
Hamels finished by retiring the final seven batters he faced, giving him his first 1-2-3 innings since June 17 at St. Louis, and exited with a 7-0 lead after only 86 pitches.
The Rangers improved to 12-4 in his starts this season, and he improved to 16-2 since he was traded by Philadelphia at the trade deadline last season. With the injuries facing the Rangers’ rotation, Hamels has continued to give them a chance every fifth day.
“That’s what an ace does,” catcher Bobby Wilson said. “An ace shows up every fifth day and gives you his best game, and that’s what Cole does. We feed off having Cole on the mound every fifth day. Guys are into it a little bit more because he works at such a good pace.
“If he’s not an All-Star, it’s a shame because he is one of the best pitchers in the league.”
Rangers at Yankees
6:05 p.m. Wednesday, FSSW