Attacking the hitters
In a year when it seems just about everyone is a power hitter, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer know what awaits in tonight’s All-Star Game.
The American League’s starting batting order has combined for 181 home runs, led by New York Yankees rookie sensation Aaron Judge with 30. The National League’s lineup has 158, topped by 26 from hometown star Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins.
That’s a whole lot of long balls.
“I’m gonna grip and rip as usual,” Sale said Monday when AL manager Brad Mills announced the Boston ace will become the first pitcher to make consecutive All-Star starts representing different teams.
“I give up my fair share of homers. You can check the book. It happens,” Sale said. “If you let that creep in your mind, it’s going to be a long night.”
Sale has given up 11 homers after allowing a career-high 27 last year. Scherzer, who opens for the National League, tied for the NL high by giving up 31 homers last season and has allowed 13 this year.
There have been 3,343 home runs in 1,327 games this season, a rate that would leave this season’s total at 6,122 – on track to break the record of 5,693 hit in 2000 during the height of the steroids era.
“I’ve given up a lot of homers over the past year-and-a-half. That’s really been something that’s been a thorn in my side,” Scherzer said. “I’ve had to become a better pitcher, locate better. Because of the home-run spike, I’ve dialed it in even more to try to make my location better to try to prevent them.”
Then with the Chicago White Sox, Sale pitched the first inning of last year’s game at San Diego and allowed a two-out home run to Kris Bryant. Sale was traded in December for top prospects.
Sale will be the 16th pitcher to make consecutive All-Star starts, the first since Arizona’s Randy Johnson in 2000-01 and the first in the AL since Toronto’s Dave Stieb in 1983-84. Born in Lakeland, about 240 miles northwest of Miami, the 28-year-old left-hander is 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA and a major league-leading 178 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings.
“All my family lives here. Brothers, sisters, in-laws, parents, even my aunts and uncles and cousins,” Sale said. “So to be able to be here not too far from where I live now is nice. I can have my family, extended family come down and experience this with me.”
Charlottetown is coming off a 9-4 loss to Moncton six days ago in the Hub City and has dropped both meetings against the Fisher Cats this season.
As good as Moncton’s been scoring runs, its pitching is bogged down with a leaguehigh 5.35 ERA and has surrendered the most runs (77) in the NBSBL this season. Sam Lund is the ace right now. He is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA and a second-best 46 strikeouts in 30 innings of work.
On the Charlottetown side, Brody McDonald is second overall with a 1.04 ERA, despite his 0-3 record and one save.
Lance Van Noy leads Moncton with a .333 batting average, tied with Charlottetown’s Jordan Stevenson for fourth overall. On the mound, Stevenson is 2-3 with a 2.61 ERA.
Saturday, the Islanders welcome the Fredericton Royals for a doubleheader. Start time for Game 1 is 2 p.m. at Memorial Field. Charlottetown travels to Fredericton, N.B., on Sunday for a rescheduled double-dip versus the Royals from early June.
Game 1 first pitch is 2 p.m.