Dan's Dugout: Strikeout Kings Reign Tomorrow • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Strikeout Kings Reign Tomorrow

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MIAMI – The Miami Marlins have the home-field advantage in the All-Star Game.

The Marlins miss pitching star Jose Fernandez

The Marlins miss pitching star Jose Fernandez

Giancarlo Stanton, their leading slugger, is batting second Tuesday night for the National League; fellow outfielder Marcell Ozuna brings speed to the bottom of the lineup; and the memory of the late Jose Fernandez, killed in a September boating accident, permeates Marlins Park.

Fernandez had hoped to start for the Senior Circuit on his home turf before fate intervened.

That left NL manager Joe Maddon was a choice between Max Scherzer, the league’s reigning Cy Young Award winner, and Clayton Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young recipient himself.

Strikeout king Max Scherzer opens for the National League

Strikeout king Max Scherzer opens for the National League

When the Dodgers ace worked Sunday, Maddon’s decision became easier.

“I would have picked Scherzer over Kershaw before I knew he couldn’t pitch,” said the Cubs manager. “He has the best numbers.”

The Washington righthander will become the fifth pitcher to start for both leagues. But he’ll have a tough opponent in Boston southpaw Chris Sale, who started for the American League last year as a member of the Chicago White Sox.

Both pitchers throw bullets and seem to be on their way to winning their respective strikeout crowns.

SaleRedSoxfacingL

Chris Sale makes his second straight start in the All-Star Game Tuesday night

“A lot of work and dedication went into this,” Sale told writers Monday. “I’m very lucky to be with the Boston Red Sox.”

Also in the starting lineup from the front-running Red Sox is switch-hitting outfielder Mookie Betts, a contact hitter batting out of the nine hole. He’s great from both sides of the plate,” said Brad Mills, the Cleveland bench coach filling in for ailing AL manager Terry Francona.

A win by the American League would tie the series at 43-43, plus two ties. The Americans won, 4-2, last July in San Diego, where they served as home team.

The leagues are matched almost evenly in All-Star runs produced, with 360 for the National League and 359 for the American League over 87 years of the Midsummer Classic.

Although the winning league no longer gets home-field advantage in the World Series, winning players get $20,000 each.

NL manager Joe Maddon hopes to stop a four-year losing streak

NL manager Joe Maddon hopes to stop a four-year losing streak

“The object always is to win the game,” said Maddon, whose team has been struggling to defend its world championship. “We’ve got to get that National League pride going. I’m sitting here because of the efforts of the 2016 Chicago Cubs.”

Mills had another thought. “The big thing for me is to get everybody in the ballgame.”

All-Star bits:

The National League lineup has three consecutive players whose names contain Z’s (Scherzer, Ozuna, and shortstop Zack Cozart) . . .

Not surprisingly, three of the top five AL hitters hail from the Houston Astros (Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and surprise cleanup man George Springer) . . .

Brad Mills is thrilled that rookie slugger Aaron Judge, already the author of 30 homers this season, will bat third for the Junior Circuit . . .

The power of Aaron Judge should help the American League Credit: Daniel Budasoff/Latino Sports

The power of Aaron Judge should help the American League
Credit: Daniel Budasoff/Latino Sports

When the Team U.S. beat the World, 8-7, in the Futures Game Sunday, the youngest man in the game was 18-year-old infielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr., a Toronto farmhand whose father is a favorite to win Hall of Fame election in 2018 . . .

Surprise, surprise: Freddie Freeman has done a good job defensively at third base for the Braves, who wanted to keep the blistering bat of first baseman Matt Adams in their lineup . . .

With heavy thunderstorms hitting Miami Monday and more in the forecast, the dome on Marlins Park was a major help.

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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