MLB.com Columnist

Mark Feinsand

Sox trio key component in AL's All-Star win

Starter Sale fires 2 scoreless, Betts shows off arm and Kimbrel earns victory

Sox trio key component in AL's All-Star win

MIAMI -- Chris Sale has dominated American League lineups all season, earning his second straight start in the Midsummer Classic.

So why did anybody think a lineup of National League All-Stars would fare any better?

Boston's ace twirled a pair of scoreless innings to open Tuesday night's 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard -- a 2-1, 10-inning win for the AL -- doing his best to quiet the Marlins Park crowd. He allowed three hits and struck out two, throwing 20 of his 28 pitches for strikes. Sale is the 16th pitcher to make consecutive All-Star starts, the first since Arizona's Randy Johnson in 2000-01 and the first in the AL since Toronto's Dave Stieb in 1983-84.

"Obviously you don't have to cover six, seven, eight, nine innings, so you can kind of air it out a little bit more," Sale said. "It's a little bit more loose of an atmosphere because it is based on having fun and not quite as competitive, but I still like to get out there the way I usually do."

Sale threw one pitch 99.5 mph in the first inning, which was harder than any single pitch he's thrown in his AL-high 127 2/3 innings. His fastest pitch in the first half was 98.8, and he hasn't topped 99 mph during the regular season since 2015.

"Probably wouldn't take that pitching style into the regular season, but we're here, it's time to do it," Sale said. "I had fun."

Sale whiffs Stanton in 1st

Sale wasn't the only Red Sox player to make his mark on the game with a blazing throw. Betts uncorked a 93.1-mph throw from center field to second base in the fourth, nailing Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado as he tried to tag up on the play.

"I told the guys, I've got to let them know when we play them now for the rest of the year, they've got to know not to run on me," said Betts, who went 0-for-2. "I take a lot of pride just because I put in so much work. There's always room to grow in the outfield, and I'm still trying to get better, still trying to get my arm stronger, get better jumps and whatnot. I feel like defense is just work. I feel like I work hard at it."

Statcast: Betts' 93.1-mph throw

Closer Craig Kimbrel joined the party in the bottom of the ninth, blowing a 98.4-mph fastball by Mets outfielder Michael Conforto to escape a jam with the potential winning run standing at third base. Kimbrel, who earned the win after Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano broke the tie with a 10th-inning home run, kept the ball from the Conforto strikeout as a souvenir.

"I'm going to get it authenticated and put it on a shelf somewhere," said Kimbrel, who showed plenty of fist-pumping emotion following the strikeout. "I didn't want to be the losing pitcher. It was definitely a lot of fun."

Kimbrel earns win

Sale's all-out approach Tuesday came as no surprise to Kimbrel, who predicted an all-out effort from his teammate.

"He's the ace of the staff; he understands that and he shows it," Kimbrel said. "You can see it all over him."

For Sale, pitching in an All-Star Game in Miami had extra meaning. The 28-year-old grew up in Lakeland and attended Florida Gulf Coast University, so his roots in the Sunshine State are deep. Sale's college coach, Dave Tollett, was at Tuesday's game watching his former player.

"In my first All-Star Game in Kansas City, when I was warming up, I caught him, so I flipped him the ball," Sale said. "I did the same thing tonight. That's special. He threw his neck out there for me years ago when nobody else was willing to. So to have him here to be able to experience this was awesome."

Sale retired Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon to start the home half of the first inning, then struck out Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins star who served as the NL's designated hitter.

Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper accounted for the lone first-inning blemish on Sale's ledger, lining a single to left field. But Sale got Giants catcher Buster Posey to fly out to center field, where Mookie Betts helped out his Boston teammate by catching the third out of the inning.

"It felt so normal," Betts said. "I caught myself just looking and admiring what he does. He pitched great again."

Sale returned for the second, encountering some rare trouble as Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy and Arenado opened the frame with consecutive singles.

But the left-hander remained cool, calm and collected, getting Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Astros star Jose Altuve made a nice play to field the grounder and fed teammate Carlos Correa, who threw to first baseman Justin Smoak.

Altuve, Correa team up for DP

"No matter what situation you're in, guys on base, you're always one pitch away from two outs," Sale said. "So you always keep that in the back of your mind. I think I threw a changeup, tried to keep it down and it ended up working out."

With the game's first potential run standing on third base, Sale fanned his second batter of the night, striking out the Marlins' other All-Star starter, left fielder Marcell Ozuna.

"I was excited," Sale said. "I threw two innings a few years ago, but I didn't start the game. I was able to start it, go two innings, it was fun. Got a little hairy there for a minute, but it all worked out."

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.