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All-Star Game Preview: National League vs. American League

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 29:  Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T Park on June 29, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 29: Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T Park on June 29, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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National League vs. American League

Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., Kaufmann Stadium

SB Nation Blog: All of them

Media: FOX

Pitching Matchup: Matt Cain (9-3, 2.62 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (9-5, 2.58 ERA)

Some people found it surprising that Cain was selected over R.A. Dickey to be the starting pitcher for the National League. Apparently, those people don't understand the appeal of having two of the most dominant pitchers in baseball this season headlining the midsummer classic... not to mention having Buster Posey, Cain's teammate, behind the plate. While Dickey has been excellent, Cain's perfect game against the Houston Astros on June 13th speaks volumes. If you have MLB.TV and haven't watched that game yet, do so in the next few days. Hell, you will probably be able to watch the whole thing during FOX's gazillion hours of pregame coverage.

I can't tell you how excited I am to see Verlander take the hill tonight. With only a couple of innings to work, expect to see JV light up the radar gun early and often. Verlander has little reason to pitch to contact this evening and will be showcasing his very best stuff right from the get-go. Laugh if you must, but I'm likening tonight's game to Brad Penny's performance in the 2006 All-Star Game. Before he got hurt and started to suck, Penny pitched two of the most electrifying innings I've seen in an All-Star Game, overpowering the AL hitters with his fastball in the upper 90s. Expect nothing less than a dazzling performance from Verlander tonight.

The Important Stuff

I could care less about 95% of this game, but I would love to see Verlander, Prince Fielder, and Miguel Cabrera have big nights. Fielder will be hitting 5th in the lineup, behind Jose Bautista. Prince has a career .753 OPS off of Cain and is 2 for 10 off of Dickey. Meanwhile, 3B Adrian Beltre is hitting 6th. Don't be surprised if Ron Washington pulls Beltre early, giving the world a chance to see the greatness of Prince and Miggy hitting back to back. Cabrera is just 1 for 6 off of Cain in his career, but that lone hit was a home run. Cabrera has a career OPS of 1.012 off of Dickey.

Outlook

It's the All-Star Game. As long as no one gets injured, it doesn't matter.

Prediction

Verlander hits 103 on Kauffman's juiced gun, Prince hits a double off the wall in his first at bat, and Miguel Cabrera hits a walk-off home run to win it for the American League.

Gameday Reading:

Justin Verlander, Matt Cain to start All-Star Game - MLB.com, Zack Meisel
"This season, Verlander has been a constant in a shaky Tigers rotation. His ERA is nearly two runs lower than any other Detroit starter." Someone seems to be relying too heavily on ERA when making grandiose statements.

Matt Cain, Not R.A. Dickey, to Start All-Star Game - The New York Times, Tyler Kepner
"The variable, of course, is that Dickey throws a knuckleball, and the starting N.L. catcher – Buster Posey, Cain’s teammate – has never caught a knuckleball pitcher."

Tigers' Justin Verlander mulling how he'll attack NL hitters in All-Star Game - Detroit Free Press, Jayson Jenks
"The nine National League starters are a combined 6-for-42 (.143) lifetime against Verlander."