SAN DIEGO (AP) — Chris Sale can admit it now: He was a little too in love with the strikeout.
He led the American League last year with 274. But all those long counts cost him.
“I wanted to pitch more innings, get deeper into the games,” the Chicago White Sox ace said Monday after he was announced to open the All-Star Game for the American League.
“As a starting pitcher, that’s really the name of the game, is getting as deep into the game while giving your team a chance to win at the same time,” he said.
San Francisco’s Johnny Cueto will start for the National League on Tuesday as the All-Stars return to San Diego for the first time since 1992.
A 27-year-old left-hander, Sale is 14-3 with a 3.38 ERA and leads the major leagues in wins. He has 123 strikeouts — third in the AL — and just 26 walks in 125 innings. Batters are hitting .225 against him.
“In the past, he was a little bit more of a power pitcher,” the Chicago Cubs’ Ben Zobrist said. “If he’s hitting spots a little bit more, that might change our ability to drive the ball.”
Cueto, a 30-year-old right-hander who left Kansas City to sign with the Giants last offseason, tops NL pitchers in victories. He is 13-1 with a 2.47 ERA, striking out 115 in 131 1/3 innings. He has won 10 consecutive decisions since an April 21 loss to Arizona.
His path to the starting nod became clearer when Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard got hurt, Stephen Strasburg pulled out of the game because of a recent disabled list stint and Madison Bumgarner was ruled out because he started Sunday.
“I was just happy to be participating in the game,” Cueto said through a translator. “But I’m very happy.”
Cueto impressed New York Mets manager Terry Collins with a two-hitter for Kansas City in Game 2 of last year’s World Series, the first complete game by an AL pitcher in the Series since Jack Morris in 1991.
“That was the best outing I’ve ever seen him have,” Collins said.
Jake Arrieta of the Cubs was on track to get the honor, going 11-1 with a 1.74 ERA through mid-June. But he lost three of his last four starts heading into the break.
“The last three outings, I haven’t pitched very well,” he said. “If I had took care of business, I probably would have been the starter or considered a little more highly.”
AL manager Ned Yost’s batting order has Houston second baseman Jose Altuve leading off, followed by Angels center fielder Mike Trout, Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado, Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez and Boston left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Collins has Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist leading off, followed by Washington right fielder Bryce Harper, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, San Diego’s Wil Myers at designated hitter, San Francisco catcher Buster Posey, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Miami center fielder Marcell Ozuna, Colorado left fielder Carlos Gonzalez and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell.
Ozuna and Gonzalez are replacements for the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler and the Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes, who are hurt.
Yost said Corey Kluber, Cole Hamels, Aaron Sanchez and Jose Quintana will follow Sale to the mound.
The AL will be the home team for the game at Petco Park because this is the second straight year of at least four in which the NL will host the All-Stars. The AL has a 10-3 advantage since the All-Star Game has determined home-field advantage in the World Series.
“It’s vitally important,” said Yost, whose Royals swept the first two games at Kauffman Stadium last year. “We’ve got a room full of tremendously talented players and if we win this game it’s going to affect somebody or somebodies in that room.”