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2011 MLB All-Star Game: Atlanta Pitches In To Claim Homefield Advantage

Prince Fielder's homer helped secure a "quiet" National League win in Tuesday night's All-Star game, but the N.L.'s string of dominant pitching - helped along by a shutout stretch from the Braves' trio of Jair Jurrjens, Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters - means that come October, the A.L. will have to contend with one of a variety of lethal 1-2 starting combos on the road and without a ninth bat.

Get excited, Atlanta - the point of MLB's adding the homefield advantage caveat is to pique the interest of contending teams (hey, that's us!), and the clubs poised to best capitalize on overwhelming a Boston or New York with a pair of aces in a DH-less park are the Braves, Phillies and Giants

Tuesday's bright stage reminded us what baseball has already accepted; this is undoubtedly an era to be forever prefixed as "post-Steroid," and as such, good pitching is absolutely dominating good hitting. That's Atlanta baseball at its 1995 finest, and with a staff ERA of 3.11, barring an injury in the rotation, the Braves seem tailor made to go the distance in the second half. Jurrjens, Hudson, Hanson: Chicks dig the offspeed change up (chicks = Baseball America statisticians).

Whether or not they can catch equally well-armed Philadelphia might be a moot point - the pair of teams are arguably the league's best and seem destined to meet in the NLCS if their bullpens hold up. Assuming the season plays out in the vain of 2010, fans would certainly prefer Atlanta contend with whatever scratches its way out of a tight Central race than go back to playoff-seasoned San Francisco. There's too much baseball left to give any credence to these bold, naive forecasts, but again, that's what the legitimized All-Star game is designed to do: bridge July and October with foolish hope. It worked.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.