CINCINNATI (AP) — Picked to start the All-Star Game for the National League, Zack Greinke wasn’t sure he wanted his wife to make the trek from Los Angeles to Great American Ball Park.
“My wife is less than three weeks until having a kid,” he said of Emily. “She found a way to get out here even though she probably shouldn’t have. That just shows how excited the family is.”
A 31-year-old Dodgers right-hander with a big league-best 1.39 ERA, Greinke starts Tuesday night against Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel, known for a distinctive long, bushy beard.
Informed Sunday by AL manager Ned Yost that Keuchel was starting, Houston manager A.J. Hinch opted not to tell the first-time All-Star. Keuchel found out from MLB Senior Vice President Phyllis Merhige when he arrived at the team’s hotel on Sunday night.
“I was able to tell my family, but I couldn’t really tell many more,” he said. “And even my family has loose lips, so I was very thankful for them not telling anybody.”
Greinke is 8-2 and enters the game following five straight scoreless starts over 35 2-3 innings. The three-time All-Star can terminate his contract at the end of the season, forfeit a minimum $71 million over the next three years and become a free agent again.
Given his season, he figures to receive lucrative offers.
“These numbers he’s putting up are really, really unbelievable,” NL manager Bruce Bochy said Monday.
Keuchel, 27, is 11-4 with a 2.23 ERA. Since starting his big league career 9-18 in 2012 and ‘13, he is 23-13.
He becomes Houston’s fourth All-Star starting pitcher after J.R. Richard (1980), Mike Scott (1987) and Roger Clemens (2004).
The AL will open the game with an all right-handed-hitting lineup for the first time; the only previous team to do that was the NL for the first of two games in 1962. This is the first time the AL starting lineup did not have at least one player from Boston or the New York Yankees.
Bochy said having the decision to have the winning All-Star team’s league gain home-field advantage in the World Series has increased the intensity of the game. Bochy’s Giants opened at home in 2010 and ‘12 and went on to four game sweeps, then started at Kansas City last year and became the first visitor to win a Game 7 since 1979.
“Your priority is not to get everybody in as much as it used to be,” he said. “There is a lot at stake.”