MIAMI -- The uniform will be different for Chris Sale, but his role remains the same. Following another dominant start to a season, the Red Sox's ace will take the mound Tuesday as the American League's starting pitcher for the second consecutive All-Star Game.One year ago, Sale earned that same
MIAMI -- The uniform will be different for Chris Sale, but his role remains the same. Following another dominant start to a season, the Red Sox's ace will take the mound Tuesday as the American League's starting pitcher for the second consecutive All-Star Game.
One year ago, Sale earned that same honor for the AL, but while with the White Sox, who sent the lefty to Boston in the offseason as part of a blockbuster trade. For AL manager Brad Mills, naming Sale as the starter once again was an easy decision. Sale will pitch opposite National League starter Max Scherzer in the 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX).
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"How nice it is to have a guy that's had the first half he has?" Mills said on Monday afternoon at Marlins Park. "I'm glad to see he's awarded for the second straight year."
That is a rare achievement, too.
Sale becomes the first pitcher to start for a league's All-Star team in back-to-back years since 2000-01, when Randy Johnson earned the nod twice in a row for the NL. Among AL pitchers, Sale is the first to start in consecutive Midsummer Classics since the Blue Jays' Dave Stieb accomplished the feat in 1983-84.
"I'm very appreciative of it," Sale said. "A lot of hard work and dedication goes into this, not only on my end, but the people I'm surrounded by. The people in my corner -- my catchers, my teammates, my coaching staff -- I've been very lucky to be where I'm at right now with the Boston Red Sox, and have that transition going as smoothly as it has been."
With the White Sox in a transitional period as a franchise, Sale was dealt to the Red Sox in December for a package of prospects -- highlighted by Futures Game participants Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. In his first tour in the AL East, Sale has not missed a beat, providing Boston with one of baseball's more overpowering arms.
Consider, for a moment, Sale's response to how to combat the heightened home run rates in the Majors.
"I'm going to grip it and rip it as usual," he said with a grin.
That aggressive mentality -- not to mention Sale's sweeping slider -- has helped the lefty pile up 178 strikeouts against 22 walks in 127 2/3 innings in the first half. Across 18 starts, Sale has gone 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA, while leading the Majors in WAR (5.3, per Fangraphs), strikeouts per nine innings (12.6), strikeout percentage (35.9) and strikeout-minus-walk percentage (31.5).
From April 10-May 19, Sale equaled his own Major League record by logging eight consecutive games with at least 10 strikeouts. He shares that record with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.
Sale, a six-time All-Star, has more than earned admiration of his peers.
"I love the way Chris goes out and competes," Scherzer said. "Going against him when he was with the White Sox, he always brought the best out of me every time I faced him. He's a guy that goes deep into a game. He'll do anything to win. He makes big-time pitches all the way."
A Florida native, Sale said this year's All-Star Game will carry a lot of meaning for him.
"I love coming to the All-Star Game," he said. "My family and friends [can] come and watch it. My college coach is coming down, which is special. I'm excited for it. It's a big deal. There's a lot going on. I would like to sit back and be able to soak this in."
On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.
The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.