LEADING OFF: All-Star Home Run Derby in LA, Sale’s hand exam
A look at what’s happening around the majors on Monday:
Pete Alonso, Albert Pujols and Kyle Schwarber tee off in the All-Star Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium, where we see how far and fast the sluggers can launch ’em into the Los Angeles twilight.
Alonso is trying to become the first player to win the derby three straight times. He tops the majors with 78 RBIs and has hit 24 home runs this season for the NL East-leading New York Mets.
Alonso takes on Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. in the first round. The other pairings: Schwarber vs. Pujols, Juan Soto vs. José Ramírez and Julio Rodríguez vs. Corey Seager.
Schwaber’s 29 homers for Philadelphia are the most among the eight contestants. Aaron Judge of the Yankees leads the majors with 33 home runs and will start Tuesday in the All-Star Game, but isn’t taking part in the longball event.
Seager, the 2020 World Series MVP when the Dodgers won the title, has hit 22 homers for Texas in his first season since leaving Los Angeles.
Pujols has hit six homers this year for St. Louis, boosting his career total to 685. He’s 42 years old and made his big league debut just a few months after Rodríguez was born — a rookie at 21, Rodríguez has hit 16 homers for Seattle.
The Red Sox hope for good news as lefty Chris Sale heads to see a specialist in Boston about the broken pinkie finger on his pitching hand.
An injury-plagued season for Sale got worse for the seven-time All-Star when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Aaron Hicks at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
Sale screamed in pain after being struck by the 106.7-mph liner. The ball deflected into right field for an RBI single that gave New York a 3-0 lead.
“One look at this finger, I knew (it was broken) immediately,” Sale said. “That feeling of just that kind of cold water rushing through your body when something like that happens. I soon as I hit the ground, I looked down, the finger is gone.”
Sale immediately ran off the field. He was hurt on the final day of play before the All-Star break in a game Boston lost 13-2.
Boston manager Alex Cora didn’t rule out a return for Sale this season.
The 33-year-old Sale was making his second start since returning from a fractured rib. He threw five scoreless innings Tuesday at Tampa Bay.
One of baseball’s top switch-hitters, Cleveland slugger José Ramírez said he won’t decide until he gets to Los Angeles whether he’ll bat right- or left-handed in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Of his 19 homers, 16 have been from the left side. The derby will be at Dodger Stadium, which has symmetrical distances to the outfield fences.
Ramírez, the AL leader with 75 RBIs, chose Double-A Akron coach Junior Betances as his pitcher for the event. Betances was his hitting coach in rookie ball.
“It feels like kind of a little reward to him for everything he helped me through my career in the minors,” Ramírez said through a translator.
Betances said he’s not nervous about pitching on such a big stage.
“It’s the same as throwing BP,” he said. “He’s the guy who has to put on the show.”
SEATTLE SPEED BUMP
Rookie Julio Rodríguez and the streaking Seattle Mariners will have to wait a while before trying to tie the team record for consecutive wins.
The Mariners won their 14th in a row Sunday, beating Texas 6-2. The club mark is 15 straight wins, set during Seattle’s most recent playoff season in 2001, when Ichiro Suzuki and the M’s went 116-46.
The 14-game streak is the longest going into an All-Star break in major league history. The Mariners matched reigning World Series champion Atlanta’s June streak for the longest this season. St. Louis had a 17-game winning string last year.
After the All-Star break, Seattle resumes Friday when it hosts AL West-leading Houston.
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