At­tack­ing the hit­ters

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY RON­ALD BLUM

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.

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