Lilly chosen for NL All-Star staff
Lone Cubs pick earns second Midsummer Classic trip
CHICAGO -- Ted Lilly's excellent adventure this season will continue at the All-Star Game.
The left-hander, who was left off the Cubs' large All-Star contingent last year, will be the team's lone representative at the Midsummer Classic July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Lilly was named to the National League All-Star team on Sunday, selected for the squad by Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel. He'll be one of two lefties on the NL roster, joining New York's Johan Santana.
"I'm excited and looking forward to it, and I hope I get an opportunity to pitch in it -- that'd be fun, too," Lilly said. "Maybe we'll win so the Cubs can get some home-field advantage in the World Series."
This will be Lilly's second trip to the All-Star Game, having played in 2004 for the American League squad as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Last year, the Cubs sent an NL record eight players to the game as well as manager Lou Piniella. But Lilly wasn't included in that group, even though he had nine wins by the break. The lefty finished 2008 with a career-high 17 wins.
He also didn't get a chance to pitch in the 2008 postseason. Lilly was penciled in to start Game 4 of the National League Division Series -- or Game 1 of the Championship Series -- but the Cubs' playoff run ended abruptly after losing three straight to the Dodgers.
"It didn't bother me because of the decision," Lilly said. "It bothered me because we didn't get a chance to continue to play. I really felt confident I'd get a chance to pitch in the playoffs. When I was told I was going to pitch the fourth game, to me it wasn't the end of the world. I was fully confident I'd get the chance to maybe lead off Game 1 if we swept the Dodgers.
"As long as we win -- that's the bottom line," he said. "Hopefully, we can grind this thing out and find ourselves in position to get into October again."
With the selection, Manuel picked someone who's had success at Busch Stadium. Lilly entered this season 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA at the Cardinals' home park. He did lose his only start there this season, on May 19, but it was one of 13 quality starts by the lefty, as he gave up three runs on four hits over seven innings in a 3-0 Cubs loss to the Cardinals.
On Sunday, Lilly (8-6) beat Milwaukee, 8-2, holding the Brewers to two runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out nine and did not walk a batter, the seventh start this year in which he has not issued a free pass.
In his past 46 2/3 innings, Lilly has walked six.
"He deserved it," Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said of Lilly. "He's had a great first half and kept us in every game he's started. He should be an All-Star."
Lee did not make it, finishing eighth among NL first basemen.
"When you look at his overall totals now, 15 [home runs] and 51 [RBIs] it's pretty impressive," Piniella said of Lee. "But you've got the guy over in St. Louis, you've got Prince [Fielder]."
Lee wasn't offended by the snub.
"I didn't feel like I deserved it," Lee said. "There are some first basemen having great years."
Chicago's Alfonso Soriano, who was vying for his eighth trip to the All-Star Game, finished fourth among NL outfielders, while Ryan Theriot and Geovany Soto also finished eighth at their respective positions in the fan balloting. Aramis Ramirez, who has been sidelined two months because of a dislocated left shoulder, was seventh among NL third basemen.
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Lilly is looking forward to the event.
"It's a great honor for me, and I'm very excited to represent our club," Lilly said. "Obviously, the goal going forward is for us to get into October. I'm looking forward to that. I know how tough a beginning of the season I had last year and felt like I got a little better."
Lilly's overall record this year doesn't reflect how well he's pitched. On Tuesday, he held the Pirates to three runs over seven innings and struck out seven, yet took the loss in a 3-0 Pittsburgh win. The Cubs have scuffled this year offensively, and they haven't provided much run support for their starters, who lead the Majors in quality starts.
He has one more start before the break, when he faces the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday at Wrigley Field. The ballpark has been a great setting for Lilly, who is 5-1 with a 1.96 ERA in eight home starts. He's gone six or more innings in each of those games and struck out 53 while walking five. His home ERA leads the NL and ranks fourth in the Major Leagues.
To top things off, Sunday was Ted Lilly T-shirt day at Wrigley Field.
"I think that's the first time in my career that's ever happened," he said, "so that's pretty cool."
Now, they just need to update them to say "All-Star."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.