Winning was not enough to earn R.A. Dickey the job as the starting pitcher for the National League in Tuesday’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Manager Tony LaRussa went with perfection.
San Francisco’s Matt Cain, who recently threw the 22nd perfect game in Major League history, was the choice Monday, when starting pitchers and starting lineups were announced. Detroit’s Justin Verlander was selected to start for the American League.
Cain struck out 14 when he did not allow a single base runner in a June 13 victory over the Houston Astros. That tied him with Sandy Koufax for the most strikeouts in a perfect game.
He reached the All-Star break with a 9-3 record, a 2.62 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 120 1/3 innings.
Dickey, a first-time All-Star at 37 years old, is tied for the Major League lead with 12 wins (he is 12-1), has a 2.40 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 120 innings pitched. His performance over the first half of the season included a stretch of 42 2/3 consecutive innings without a run allowed.
The Nashville native and Montgomery Bell Academy graduate theorized in the days leading up to Monday’s announcement that his role could be determined by the fact that he throws a knuckleball. He raised the possibility that not every catcher is comfortable handling the pitch.
Buster Posey of the Giants, Cain’s teammate, is the starting catcher for the National League. The only other catcher on the roster is Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz.
The last knuckleballer selected for the All-Star Game was Boston’s Tim Wakefield in 2009. He was not used in that contest.
"Truthfully, I don't know really what to expect," Dickey said Sunday, according to ESPN.com. "It seems like I'm being talked about early on at least. So the fear of going and not getting an inning doesn't seem to be there. And I'm thankful for that."
Verlander won both the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards last season but did not pitch in the All-Star Game. He was ineligible because he was the Tigers’ starter in their final game before the break, two days prior to the All-Star Game.
This year, his most recent outing was last Wednesday.
Similarly, Murfreesboro native and Vanderbilt product David Price last pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays last Wednesday. Price, Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox and Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels all were considered viable candidates to be the starter.
Price is 11-4 with a 2.82 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 111 2/3 innings. By comparison, Verlander is 9-5 with a 2.58 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 132 2/3 innings pitched.
Price started for the American League in 2010, his only previous All-Star Game appearance.