By Josh Cook
Although Louisville wasn't represented in Tuesday night's Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the area has plenty of players who are playing big roles for their big league teams this year.
And even a couple who were worthy of playing in the Midsummer Classic at Anaheim, Calif.
Dan Uggla and Jon Rauch have put up very good numbers this season and, some might so, were All-Star oversights.
Uggla, the Florida Marlins second baseman who was born in Louisville but went to high school and college in Tennessee, is among the most productive players at his position in the National League.
Uggla, an N.L. All-Star in 2006 and 2008, made a strong case for the team again this year. At the midway point of the season Uggla is hitting .285, including .444 over his last 10 games, with 16 home runs, 52 runs batted in, 92 hits and 56 runs scored (tied for fifth in the N.L.). His 137 homers with the Marlins are one shy of Miguel Cabrera's franchise record.
"Everybody loves to go to the All-Star Game. It's a lot of fun. I came up a little short. I won't lose any sleep over it," Uggla, who has averaged (27-31-32-31) homers and (90-88-92-90) RBIs over the last four season, told MLB.com on July 4. "I'll take my four days off and go see my kids. The guys that are in the game, they deserve everything they're getting. I'll enjoy watching it."
Meanwhile Rauch, the Minnesota Twins' closer and the tallest players in the majors, made a good case for a spot on the American League All-Star team.
Rauch, who was born in Louisville and graduated from Oldham County High School, is tied for fourth in the A.L. with 20 saves in his first season as the team's closer. The 6-foot-11 right-hander, who entered this season with 26 career saves, moved into the role when four-time All-Star Joe Nathan had to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Rauch also has a 2-1 record with a 2.38 earned-run average and has 25 strikeouts in 34 innings pitched. He has been especially effective of late with five saves, one win and a 1.64 ERA in his last 10 outings.
Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Scott Downs, who graduated from Pleasure Ridge Park High School and attended the University of Kentucky, also deserved some consideration for the A.L. All-Star team.
Downs a solid middle reliever ranks fourth in the A.L. in holds (16) and tied for sixth in games (41). The left-hander has a 3-5 record with a 2.65 ERA and has an impressively-low .219 batting average against him. Downs also has given up one more hit than strikeouts (30 to 29) in 37 1/3 innings this season. In his last 10 outings Downs, who led the A.L. in games in 2007, has two victories and allowed no earned runs over 10 2/3 innings as his ERA has dropped from 3.58 to 2.65.
Other Louisville-area MLBers who have had their moments this season are St. Louis Cardinals left-handed reliever Trever Miller, Seattle Mariners right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley and San Francisco Giants right-hander Todd Wellemeyer.
Miller, a graduate of Trinity High School, is 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA and a .214 average against in middle relief for St. Louis, which is one game behind Cincinnati in the N.L. Central.
Kelley, a graduate of Ballard High School, is 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA in 22 games this season. He has 26 strikeouts in 25 innings, but is currently on the disabled list with inflammation in his pitching elbow.
Wellemeyer, out of Eastern High School and Bellarmine University, is 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 11 starts with the Giants. He has been on the disabled list since June 11, though, with a right quad injury. His best outing of the season was a win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 27 when he gave up just two earned runs and three hits over seven innings.
Meanwhile New York Mets right-handed reliever Sean Green, who is a graduate of Male High School and attended the University of Louisville, has only appeared in one game this season. He has been on the disabled list since April with a cracked rib, but is scheduled to throw off a mound next week.