With one pitch, American League starter Chris Sale made it pretty clear he was excited for the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, won by the AL, 8-6, in 10 innings.With a man on second and two outs in the first inning, the lanky lefty induced a flyout to center field
With one pitch, American League starter Chris Sale made it pretty clear he was excited for the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, won by the AL, 8-6, in 10 innings.
With a man on second and two outs in the first inning, the lanky lefty induced a flyout to center field from Freddie Freeman on a fastball clocked at 100.7 mph -- the fastest pitch he's thrown since 2010.
In fact, Sale hit 101 mph and 100.7 mph back in 2010, when he was exclusively a reliever for the White Sox.
"He throws hard," said Cubs second baseman Javier Baez, the National League's leadoff hitter, on facing Sale. "Just got to hit the fastball. Let's see what I got on his fastball."
After allowing a leadoff double to Baez, Sale retired the next three hitters and finished his night with one hit, one strikeout and no walks on just nine pitches thrown. Sale is only the third pitcher to start in three straight All-Star Games, joining Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez (AL, 1933-35) and Robin Roberts (NL, 1953-55) as the only members of this distinguished club.
"I felt pretty good," Sale said. "I'll take a little time off, get an extra day. Plus I'm only throwing one inning. Nice little tuneup."
Sale had plenty of family to support him -- his sister, his brother-in-law and his three nephews. And best of all, as Sale took to the red carpet, he brought along his son.
"He had a blast," Sale said. "The whole red carpet event, he loves coming to the Home Run Derby. He's really starting to figure out names of guys, their stats, what positions they play and all of that."
Last year, at the All-Star Game in Miami, Sale threw two scoreless innings, and the year before that, in San Diego, he allowed one run in one inning.
Craig Kimbrel represented the Red Sox in the bullpen, though he did not close for the AL. Kimbrel said the plan was to rest him, since he had pitched four out of five days leading up to the game.
Sale's NL counterpart Tuesday night was Max Scherzer, who was also his opponent in last year's Midsummer Classic. They are the first two pitchers to face off as starters in consecutive All-Star Games since Red Ruffing (Yankees) and Paul Derringer (Reds) did it in 1939-40.
Sale is the eighth Red Sox pitcher to start the All-Star Game -- and the first to do it multiple times.
But as Sale stepped on the mound, he did not think about historical weight tethered to this start.
"The only thing I was thinking about out there was getting outs and not messing up," he said.
For J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts, the All-Star Game posed a special kind of challenge: a new elite pitcher every inning. That meant no easy at-bats.
"You're facing power pitchers right now," Martinez said. "So that's kind of what you expect -- hit or miss -- with these guys. They're just tough, they're not going to give up two, three hits in a row."
Betts was the leadoff hitter for the AL, but he didn't reach base in his third Midsummer Classic, with two strikeouts against Scherzer and the Braves' Mike Foltynewicz and a flyout against the Mets' Jacob deGrom.
Martinez recorded his first hit in an All-Star Game in the first inning, when he drilled a grounder to center field against Scherzer, sending the Angels' Michael Trout to third. Martinez ended his second All-Star Game 1-for-2.
At the game, Martinez got to catch up with Jose Altuve, his former Greenville Astros teammate. He told Aaron Judge, "Ver called it" after Justin Verlander predicted Judge's second-inning home run.
But Martinez's favorite part?
"I think talking hitting with the guys, you know?" Martinez said. "In the cage and on the field, talking shop, that's what I like to do."
There were other highlights: the pregame ceremony honoring the military, which reminded Betts of his family members who served, and the smile on Mitch Moreland's face as he took to the field for his first All-Star Game. Moreland lined a single in the eighth inning, a liner to left field against the Brewers' Josh Hader, then singled again in the 10th off the Dodgers' Thomas Stripling.
But before all that, during batting practice, the three Red Sox batters -- Martinez, Betts and Moreland -- found each other on the field. They stood aside from the other All-Stars, sharing a moment in Nationals Park.
"Yeah, just soaking in the experience," Betts said. "It's not like we're all veterans here. I've got the most and I've only got three, so just soaking it all in."
Blake Richardson is a reporter for MLB.com.