- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This combined tale of one city’s teams in the 83rd All-Star Game is highlighted by first-time appearances from Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale and Chicago Cubs outfielder/first baseman Bryan LaHair.
Although none of the six Chicago All-Stars factored in Tuesday’s final outcome, an 8-0 National League victory, the experience was unforgettable for the two newcomers.
“It was awesome and more than I could have even thought [it would be],” said Sale, who pitched a scoreless sixth inning, allowing two hits and striking out David Freese to end his work day.
“I loved the whole thing, packed crowd, it was nuts,” Sale said.
LaHair entered the game in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement for Freese. The 29-year-old journeyman seemed to enjoy every moment he had on the field.
“It was awesome because the team came out banging and we had a dugout that was excited from the first inning on,” LaHair said.
The night was highlighted for LaHair when he batted against Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning.
“I tried to ambush his fastball but it didn’t work for me,” LaHair said of his groundout to shortstop. “I put it in play but I did not get enough barrel on it.”
Both Chicago players walked away from the game with an added feeling that they belong with the best.
“I leave with even more confidence,” LaHair said. “I had a good talk with Chipper Jones and took a little advice, hopefully use that to my advantage in the second half.”
Jones was a factor in Sale’s experience as well. The Sox starter had to step off the mound when the Atlanta Braves superstar was announced to a standing ovation by the Kansas City crowd.
“It was a special moment for him and the player he has been,” Sale said. “He has been a class act over his career. It’s not too often I like giving up hits but that one is a little easier to handle.”
Jones apparently fired up the entire National League squad with a short speech to the team before they took the field.
“Chipper said this is his last game and he didn’t come here to lose,” said Starlin Castro, who flew out to centerfield in his only at-bat. “That got us all going in this clubhouse.”