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Boston's Sale gets third MLB All-Star start in a row

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Washington (AFP)

Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale will make a record-tying third consecutive start in Tuesday's 89th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, facing Washington ace Max Scherzer in his home ballpark.

Sale, a 29-year-old left-hander, makes his seventh all-star appearance for the American League against National League 33-year-old right-hander Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner as best pitcher.

"You're looking at the best hitters on the planet in these lineups," Sale said. "You definitely have to have your stuff together just to go out and compete."

It's the first time since 1940 that two pitchers have started against each other in consecutive All-Star Games. Each threw the first inning a year ago when the American League won 2-1 to level the all-time rivalry at 43-43 with two drawn.

"When I get to face him, it brings out the best in me," Scherzer said. "He's one of the best in the game, if not the best. It's an honor to go out there and start this thing again."

With 188 strikeouts, Sale has the most at the All-Star break since Randy Johnson's 202 in 2001. He is 10-4 with a 2.23 earned-run average and among five All-Stars for the Red Sox, who own baseball's best record at 68-30.

"He's truly a special pitcher, the most consistent starter in the American League," AL manager A.J. Hinch said.

Sale becomes the first All-Star pitcher with three consecutive starts in 63 years. The only pitchers with three consecutive All-Star starts are Lefty Gomez for the American League in 1933-35 and Robin Roberts for the National League in 1953-55.

"Obviously I appreciate it. It's a big honor," Sale said. "I know this hasn't happened very often in a long time. I appreciate it. I'm going to try and have some fun with it, too. That's why we're all here. We want to grip and rip and try to get a win."

Scherzer, 12-5 with a 2.41 earned-run average and 182 strikeouts, has been a stalwart for a Nationals team that's only 48-48.

"This is just a dream come true," said Scherzer.

It could become a nightmare with a host of star sluggers in the American League lineup, including five of the seven top major league home run hitters.

The top three hitters in the major leagues -- Boston's Mookie Betts (.359), Houston's Jose Altuve (.322) and Boston's J.D. Martinez (.328) -- are batting first, second and fourth respectively in the AL lineup with Mike Trout, the major league walks leader with 84, in the third spot.

Cleveland's Jose Ramirez, whose 29 homers match Martinez atop the major leagues, bats fifth followed by New York Yankee star Aaron Judge, Baltimore's Manny Machado, Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu and Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez.

"It's amazing to be here with all these other guys," Machado said. "Once we get on that diamond (for our clubs) I might not like you but for one day we all come together."

The National League lineup includes Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs leading off followed by Colorado's Nolan Arenado, Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt, Atlanta's Freddy Freeman, Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington's Bryce Harper, Atlanta's Nick Markakis, San Francisco's Brandon Crawford and Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.

"There's a lot of excitement," Kemp said. "There are a lot of great players here. I'm just happy to be here."

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