SAN DIEGO – Chris Sale owned Kris Bryant during the Cubs third baseman’s rookie season, and the White Sox left-hander threw him a pretty good pitch after recording two quick outs in the first inning of the All-Star Game on Tuesday night.
A 96-mile-per-hour fastball down low and on the inside corner is nothing to be ashamed of, but Bryant ripped it into the left field seats in an otherwise snappy and clean first inning for Sale.
“You could hear it,” Sale said. “I think I felt it, too. He got a good piece of it.”
Nine pitches, six strikes and an inning-ending strikeout against hometown star Wil Myers to end the inning. Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist flied to left leading off the game, and Bryce Harper hit a soft roller to second before Bryant hit the first pitch he saw and Sale’s fourth.
“Third batter of the game, you’re throwing first pitch fastball,’’ Sale said. “We didn’t do scouting reports or anything like that. But he’s an unbelievable athlete. He put a good swing on a good pitch. Made some entertainment.’’
And that was it as Sale, as expected, logged one inning in his first All-Star start after three relief appearances and one no-participation.
Sale was the first Sox to start the All-Star Game since Mark Buehrle in 2005.
“I appreciate it and I tried to enjoy every moment,” Sale said. “Every warm-up pitch, introductions, everything. it was fun, an experience I’ll never forget. I appreciate the honor of being able to start an All-Star Game. I gave up a run. It was a home run, whatever. But the experience in itself was worth every last minute.”
Q in control
Sox left-hander Jose Quintana was flying high before his first All-Star game but his emotions were in check.
“It’s awesome,’’ Quintana said. “I’m more excited than nervous because I have a lot of confidence in my preparation. I’m excited.’’
Quintana pitched a scoreless fifth, navigating through trouble because of an error by second baseman Jose Altuve.
“I kept the score the same, I did my job, so it was fun,’’ he said.
“I want to be here next year again.’’
Ode to Oritz
David Ortiz, who is retiring after the season, received a warm sendoff when removed for a pinch runner, as the AL dugout emptied to congratulate him on the field.
Quintana, a big fan of Ortiz’ felt honored that his first All-Star Game was Ortiz’ last.
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell hadn’t met Ortiz but was hoping to.
“It’s pretty cool being in my first All-Star Game and he’s in his last,’’ Russell said. “I can tell my children some day about this. It’s generational. I’m trying to soak it in and chalk it up as a valuable experience.’’
Ortiz brought out the lineup card for AL manager Ned Yost.
This and that
Commissioner Rob Manfred does not performance-enhancing drugs are a reason for the increase in home runs, which were up to 2.32 per game before the All-Star break from 1.90 in the first half last season and the most before the break since 2.56 in 2000.
“The increase in the number of home runs takes place against a very, very different backdrop,” Manfred said Tuesday. “It takes place against the backdrop where Major League Baseball does 22,000 drug tests a year.”
Manfred insisted baseballs are the same as last year, disputing the notion they are juiced.
*The NL and AL batting titles will be named after Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew, MLB announced before the game.