SEATTLE — Nothing has been quite as all-American as the MLB All-Star Game.
The American League enters Tuesday's Midsummer Classic at T-Mobile Park with a nine-game winning streak and only three losses to the National League in the annual exhibition since 1997.
Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani won't pitch in the game because of a blister but is in the lineup batting second. Ohtani leads the majors in home runs (32) and triples (six).
On the mound, Ohtani hits the break fourth in MLB with 132 strikeouts and opponents are batting .189 against him. He started the 2022 All-Star Game and sat down the first three batters he faced in order.
"He's the most incredible athlete I've ever seen playing baseball," AL manager Dusty Baker said Monday.
With Ohtani unavailable, Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole (9-2, 2.85 ERA in the first half) was named the AL starter. Cole is a six-time All-Star but last pitched in the game in 2015.
"I've been to a few of them and had the pleasure of watching some future Hall of Famers (start)," Cole said. "I've always been like, ‘Man, I really hope I can do that one day."
He'll go on two days rest after pitching 7 1/3 innings on Saturday and oppose Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zac Gallen (11-3, 3.04 ERA).
"Guy has been here five or six times," Baker said Monday of his decision to turn to Cole ahead of Seattle ace Luis Castillo. "About time he started."
MLB's most popular player based on jersey sales, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., leads the National League lineup after becoming the first player to ever reach 20 home runs, 40 stolen bases and 50 RBI before the All-Star break.
Acuna, 25, and Ohtani led their respective leagues in All-Star Game votes. Acuna is one of eight Braves named All-Stars, tying the All-Star Game record for National League teams.
Acuna is hitting leadoff and three consecutive Los Angeles Dodgers follow him in the NL batting order, starting at No. 2 with former Atlanta teammate Freddie Freeman, followed by Mookie Betts and designated hitter J.D. Martinez.
Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez earned a repeat appearance in the Home Run Derby after a record 81 homers in 2022 and was named to the AL roster as an injury replacement for Yordan Alvarez of the Astros. Right-hander George Kirby gives Seattle three All-Stars; he was added to replace Rays righty Shane McClanahan.
"It's going to be fun, a lot of fun," Rodriguez said.
The early going Tuesday night might take on more of a National League vs. the Texas Rangers feel.
For the first time in 47 years, a team has five position players in the All-Star Game starting lineup. Texas had four starters voted in — catcher Jonah Heim, second baseman Marcus Semien, shortstop Corey Seager and third baseman Josh Jung — and Adolis Garcia was named as an injury replacement in the outfield with Mike Trout and Aaron Judge both unavailable.
Trout was selected to his MLB-leading 11th All-Star Game, 10th as a starter, but is sidelined by a fractured wrist; Judge is fighting a foot injury.
"Any time you can make one it's really special. To be able to share it with a bunch of your teammates is really cool," Seager said.
Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez, the AL batting champ with the Minnesota Twins and a 2022 All-Star, is back this year on the NL side and will hit sixth in the lineup. He's batting .383, which matches Babe Ruth (1920, Yankees) as one of the best ever first-half averages. Ty Cobb was over .400 twice, including .446 at the break in 1911.
It's a homecoming for Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll, the NL Rookie of the Year favorite with 18 home runs, 48 RBI, 26 stolen bases and an infinite need for tickets Tuesday night. He said he wrangled 20 total tickets for his family and friends, some of whom will make the 30-minute walk Carroll did as a kid from his Queen Anne neighborhood to the ballpark.
"I'm not sure when it's all going to hit me, but I know I'll appreciate it," said Carroll.
The last time Seattle hosted the MLB All-Star Game in 2001 at the same venue — then known as Safeco Field — Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken was MVP in his 19th and final appearance in the game. The American League won 4-1.
Both managers announced their batting order Monday afternoon:
Manager Rob Thomson (PHI)
1. Ronald Acuña Jr., RF (ATL)
2. Freddie Freeman, 1B (LAD)
3. Mookie Betts, CF (LAD)
4. J.D. Martinez, DH (LAD)
5. Nolan Arenado, 3B (STL)
6. Luis Arraez, 2B (MIA)
7. Sean Murphy, C (ATL)
8. Corbin Carroll, LF (ARI)
9. Orlando Arcia, SS (ATL)
Manager Dusty Baker (HOU)
1. Marcus Semien, 2B (TEX)
2. Shohei Ohtani, DH (LAA)
3. Randy Arozarena, LF (TB)
4. Corey Seager, SS (TEX)
5. Yandy Díaz, 1B (TB)
6. Adolis García, RF (TEX)
7. Austin Hays, CF (BAL)
8. Josh Jung, 3B (TEX)
9. Jonah Heim, C (TEX)