Dan's Dugout: Rare Rematch for All-Star Starters • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Rare Rematch for All-Star Starters

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WASHINGTON – The 89th annual All-Star Game is already on odd duck.

The AL starter will be the same for the third straight year. And the starters for both leagues will be a rematch from last year.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale starts for the third straight year

In picking Red Sox lefty Chris Sale, AL manager A.J. Hinch said, “I had some tough choices. I considered a number of guys. But he’s the most consistent pitcher in our league.”

Hinch, whose Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series in seven games, indicated Luis Severino (Yankees) and Blake Snell (Rays) will follow the Boston strikeout artist.

“We’re going to get together and decide how the pitching will go,” he told a packed media conference Monday at Nationals Park. “I’m going to use Severino second and then we’ll see. There are a few guys I definitely want to get in there and a few who pitched this weekend I need to check with.”

One of those who pitched Sunday was Houston ace Justin Verlander, Sale’s chief challenger for the American League’s Cy Young Award. Verlander, acquired from Detroit in a midseason swap last summer, won’t appear in the game.

Another former Tiger definitely will, however. For Dave Roberts, manager of the Dodgers and the NL squad, picking Scherzer was a no-brainer.

Max Scherzer is making his third All-Star start

“It’s his city and his ballpark,” Roberts said of the Washington righthander. “It’s an honor to hand him the ball and watch him do his thing. He’s the right guy to take the baseball. But that doesn’t take anything away from Jacob deGrom, who’s had a fantastic year too.

“The tiebreaker was the ballpark. This game is for the fans and we’re in Washington.”

Starting the same opposing pitchers two years in a row hasn’t happened since 1939-40, when Red Ruffing started for the American League and Paul Derringer for the National.

Asked about his rival, Scherzer said, “Chris can compete with anybody. He’ll give you everything he’s got.”

Sale returned the compliment. “Max really commands the game,” he said. “I was hoping I could face him in the lineup but he I know he swings a pretty good bat.”

The 2018 All-Star Game will be played in Washington on July 17

The AL starter looks at the game as a learning experience. “It’ll be fun,” he said. “Talking with the other pitchers about how they handle the hitters is one aspect of it.

“The competition is the best part,” he said. “You have the best hitters on the planet in these lineups.”

Scherzer agreed. “This is not even close to pitching in the regular season,” he said. “It’s the closest we can get to the pressure of the postseason.”

The biggest decision about the lineups was figuring out the outfield configuration. Voters chose two rightfielders for each league.

“That’s a tricky one,” Hinch said when asked how to decide between Aaron Judge (Yankees) and Mookie Betts (Red Sox). “Both guys would have done anything we asked.”

The NL decision was a bit easier since Bryce Harper, winner of the Home Run Derby Monday night, has played some center field for the Nationals. Nick Markakis (Braves) will play right field, where’s he played all year, with Matt Kemp (Dodgers) in left. Markakis, an All-Star for the first time in his 14-year career, led all NL outfielders in votes.

Nick Markakis took 14 years to make an All-Star team
Credit: Topps Company

Both league will use designated hitters, a decision implented late in the regime of former commissioner Bud Selig to liven up the offense. The American League needed 10 innings last year to eke out a 2-1 victory and forge a 43-43 mark, plus two ties, in All-Star competition (there was no game in 1945 because of wartime travel restrictions).

The contest is the first scheduled for Washington since 1969, when heavy storms forced a one-day postponement. The same scenario could happen again.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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