LEADING OFF: Sale's All-Star tuneup, final fan voting wraps
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
Red Sox ace Chris Sale makes his final appearance before the All-Star Game, putting him in line to potentially start for the American League next Tuesday in Miami. Sale (11-3, 2.61 ERA) enters a game against Tampa Bay with double-digit strikeouts in three of his past four outings, including seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts against Toronto last Saturday.
Fan voting online for the final spot on each All-Star roster ends at 4 p.m. EDT, and the two winners will be announced a few hours later on MLB Network. As of Wednesday afternoon, Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was leading the American League balloting over shortstops Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Didi Gregorius (Yankees) and Elvis Andrus (Rangers), and Rays first baseman Logan Morrison. Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was at the front of the National League field, followed by Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds and Marlins first baseman Justin Bour.
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE...
Justin Verlander's once-secure future in Detroit has become increasingly uncertain. With the Tigers languishing below .500, the pressure may soon be on general manager Al Avila to trade some of his biggest stars, including the 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner who debuted with Detroit in 2005. ''Obviously, where there's smoke, there's fire,'' Verlander said of the trade speculation, adding that ''it's just the way sports are now.''
Indians manager Terry Francona will miss at least a few more games as doctors try to pinpoint his medical issues. Francona was still at the Cleveland Clinic on Wednesday getting tests to determine what has been causing light-headedness and an increased heart rate over the past month. The 58-year-old Francona was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday. Team president Chris Antonetti said Francona could be sidelined for the remainder of Cleveland's homestand before next week's All-Star break. Francona is supposed to manage the American League All-Star team next Tuesday in Miami.
NL WEST SHOWDOWN
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks conclude a three-game series with a battle of left-handers: Los Angeles' Rich Hill (5-4, 4.00) against Arizona's Robbie Ray (8-4, 3.06). Hill dominated San Diego in his previous start, a promising sign after a first half of the season plagued by blisters and inconsistent performance. Ray was named to his first All-Star team Sunday, although he's 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA over his past three starts.
Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz makes his first start since taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Oakland. The hard-throwing 25-year-old was pulled after Matt Olson's leadoff homer on his career-high 119th pitch, and he got an extra day of rest ahead of his scheduled start against Washington. Foltynewicz (6-5, 3.83) was 3-0 with a 2.97 ERA in six starts last month.
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