Only two Hall of Famers had ever served as starting pitchers for three straight All-Star Games before Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who will get the honor for the American League on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX).In other words, Sale -- smack in the middle of his prime
Only two Hall of Famers had ever served as starting pitchers for three straight All-Star Games before Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who will get the honor for the American League on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX).
In other words, Sale -- smack in the middle of his prime at 29 years old -- is clearly becoming quite legendary himself.
The lanky lefty will join Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez (AL, 1933-35) and Robin Roberts (National League, 1953-55) as the only members of this distinguished club.
"Obviously I appreciate it. It's a big honor," Sale said. "I know this hasn't happened very often in a long time. I appreciate it. I'm going to try and have some fun with it. That's why we're all here too. Grip and rip, and try to get a win."
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It was AL manager AJ Hinch, who guided the Astros to the World Series championship last season, who tabbed Sale for the big honor on Monday afternoon.
"Some tough choices around the league," Hinch said. "There are a number of guys that I considered. But honestly, the proof is in the numbers and the most consistent starter in the American League. ... Do you like pure dominance? Do you like the punch? We've seen a few of those. He is truly a special pitcher in our league. He truly is someone who deserves this honor."
It is an honor that Sale grabbed at a time he is absolutely on fire for the Red Sox, who have five All-Stars and the best record in the Major Leagues at 68-30. Mookie Betts will lead off and play right field for the AL All-Star team, Hinch announced, and designated hitter J.D. Martinez will bat cleanup.
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In Sale's last seven starts before the break, he was 5-1 with a 0.94 ERA, notching 78 strikeouts in 48 innings and not allowing a homer. For the season, he is 10-4 with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP.
The 6-foot-6 lefty possesses elite velocity and wipeout secondary pitches, and he could be putting himself in position to claim the coveted AL Cy Young Award that is missing from his mantle. Sale has finished between second and sixth balloting for the award in each of the past six seasons.
He will be opposed by Nationals ace right-hander Max Scherzer for the second consecutive Midsummer Classic, setting up an early duel between two of the most overpowering pitchers of this era.
"To me, Chris is the complete pitcher," said Scherzer. "A guy who can go out there pitch multiple pitches, attack the strike zone, has the fastball and demeanor and intensity out there to compete with anybody."
This is Sale's seventh straight trip to the All-Star Game.
"He's going to give you everything he's got, whether it means 120 pitches, and honestly, for me, when I get to face him, it brings the best out of me," said Scherzer. "I love competing against him. He's one of the best in the game, if not the best, and he's so much fun to watch."
Sale is known as much for his fierce competitiveness as for his gaudy numbers. Don't expect that fire to go away in the All-Star Game.
"Obviously the competition is the best," Sale said. "I mean, you look at both of these lineups and they have the best hitters on the planet. Yeah, you definitely have to have your stuff together and go out there and just compete. I've always loved a packed house."
Sale's 188 K's at the break are the most since Randy Johnson had 202 in 2001.
In his 2016 All-Star Game start, Sale tossed nine pitches over one inning, serving up a first-pitch homer to Kristopher Bryant that lasered over the left-field wall at Petco Park. Sale also induced a flyout from Benjamin Zobrist, a groundout from Bryce Harper and a strikeout from William Myers.
In 2017, Sale worked two scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out two over 28 pitches.
"These ballparks get pretty lively during these events, too, during the All-Star Game. It just raises your adrenaline a little bit, and [you] just go out there and compete," said Sale.
While watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX on Tuesday, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.
The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.
For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.