Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia
The American League has dominated its older counterpart for the better part of the last three decades but is just now getting the opportunity to pull ahead in the overall series when the Midsummer Classic visits Washington on Tuesday. The game will take place in an NL park for the fourth consecutive summer, but the AL won the last five and 23 of the last 30 – including a 2-1 victory in 10 innings last season – to draw even in the all-time series at 43-43-2.The AL is stacked again on offense and brings the major’s leading hitter – Boston’s Mookie Betts (.359) – along with the top two home run hitters – Boston’s J.D. Martinez and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez (29 each) – and the game’s top player in Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout. Betts and Martinez headline a quintet of players along with left-hander Chris Sale, closer Craig Kimbrel and first baseman Mitch Moreland coming from the major-league best Red Sox, who cruised into the break 38 games over .500. The NL starting lineup combines exciting young players (Chicago second baseman Javier Baez and catcher Willson Contreras) with some veterans returning to the All-Star Game after putting together surprising first halves (Los Angeles outfielder Matt Kemp, Atlanta outfielder Nick Markakis). The NL team will be led by hometown star Bryce Harper, who comes into the break tied for second in the NL with 23 homers but batting .214 with 102 strikeouts as he tries to impress potential suitors before hitting free agency in the offseason.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FOX
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Chris Sale (10-4, 2.23 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.41)
The AL is just as stout on the pitching side and could have given the start to several pitchers but tabbed Sale to make his third consecutive All-Star start. Sale is in the midst of a remarkable stretch of five consecutive starts with at least 11 strikeouts and no more than one walk, and he leads the AL in ERA and strikeouts (188). AL manager A.J. Hinch will back up Sale with a staff that includes staff aces Luis Severino (Yankees) and Blake Snell (Tampa Bay) along with MLB saves leader Edwin Diaz (Seattle).
Scherzer will make his second consecutive All-Star start and third overall, including one for the AL as a member of the Detroit Tigers in 2013, and rolls into the break tied for the NL lead in wins while ranking third in ERA and first in strikeouts (182). Scherzer will be backed up by MLB ERA leader Jacob deGrom (1.68) and budding young stars like Aaron Nola (Philadelphia) and Mike Foltynewicz (Atlanta). The NL bullpen features a pair of relievers who figure to have their names called out around the trade deadline in San Diego’s Brad Hand and Pittsburgh’s Felipe Vazquez.
1. Royals C Salvador Perez will replace Rays C Wilson Ramos (hamstring) in the starting lineup.
2. Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner RHP Corey Kluber (Cleveland) and World Series hero RHP Justin Verlander (Houston) will be inactive for the game.
3. Betts will bat leadoff for the AL while the Baez starts things off for the NL lineup.