Sale works scoreless inning for AL in loss
Lefty allows two hits, fans one; Konerko hit by a pitch
KANSAS CITY -- Apart from the unsightly outcome, representing Chicago and the American League in the 2012 All-Star Game was something to treasure for Paul Konerko, Chris Sale, Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy.
Resuming their regular jobs now performing for White Sox manager Robin Ventura on the South Side will be an ongoing pleasure for the foursome.
"We're having a great time, with a great environment," Peavy said, looking forward to the second-half challenge presented by the AL Central. "We think we can beat the best teams in baseball. We're a complete ballclub. We show up every night and play hard."
There wasn't much the White Sox contingent could do about this one. By the time two of Ventura's athletes -- Sale and Konerko -- surfaced at Kauffman Stadium, the issue was no longer in doubt. Neither Peavy nor Dunn made an appearance.
The National League rolled out of the chute firing on all cylinders with five first-inning runs en route to an 8-0 decision and home-field advantage in the World Series for the third year in a row for its league champions.
"When you get down early with the kind of pitching they have over there," Peavy said, "it's tough. The atmosphere was amazing, though. This is one of my favorite places to play."
Sale pitched the sixth, with Konerko taking over at first base. After yielding a slow roller for a single to Chipper Jones, one of his boyhood heroes, and another single to Andrew McCutchen, Sale sailed through unscathed. He struck out David Freese to leave two men stranded.
"Warming up, being a part of it, was really special," Sale said of his All-Star Game debut. "One-run ballgame, tie ballgame, blowout, you still want to go out and do your best."
The first man he faced, Rafael Furcal, flied deep to center. Sale exhaled.
"My first pitch right out of the gate is a pretty deep fly ball," Sale said. "After that I kind of settled down and enjoyed it."
Striking out Freese, the Cardinals' 2011 World Series hero, was "nice," Sale said. "Especially against the kind of player he is. That was fun."
Konerko was hit by a pitch by Mets knuckleball specialist R.A. Dickey in the bottom half of the sixth, giving the AL two on with one out, but Miguel Cabrera rapped into a double play.
Dunn was not summoned by manager Ron Washington to swing the bat in his second All-Star Game. The local fans made clear their preference for Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who was hitless in two at-bats, behind starter David Ortiz.
Peavy arrived Monday night after attending the funeral of Darrel Akerfelds, his coach, mentor and buddy during his early professional years with the Padres.
A 2007 Cy Young Award winner in San Diego with Akerfelds at his side, Peavy has made an inspiring comeback after having a tendon and muscle in his right shoulder surgically reattached in 2010 in a complicated procedure.
The All-Star assignment as a replacement for the Angels' C.J. Wilson served as another confirmation of the success of Peavy's quest. There is no way to accurately measure in numbers what the veteran right-hander has meant to the White Sox this season, in the unclouded view of Dunn.
A young pitching staff featuring Sale has benefited immensely from Peavy's easy, reassuring manner, balancing his competitive razor's edge. But the impact doesn't end there.
"He helps everybody -- not only the pitchers, [but] position players and everybody else," Dunn said. "It's the way he goes about his business. He's a true professional. He knows what he's doing. He's also not afraid to have fun.
"He definitely has something to do with" the maturity of the pitching staff, Dunn added. "We also have Robin and the coaching staff, who have a [calm] demeanor."
Ventura's debut season has been a revelation to Dunn, who marvels at his ability to stay sane and stable in a role that has been known to drive men a little crazy.
"Everything you see is what he is," Dunn said. "The first time I met him, I thought, `This guy's going to be awesome.' He never gets too high or too low. When it's over, it's over. He knows.
"He's not that far removed from being a player. He's in it with us. For me, I can't put it into words. For him to have the players' side down -- obviously he's done it his whole life. Also he's got the fine line defined from being a manager and your buddy."
Ventura, who spent the first 10 of his 16 years as a Major League player in a White Sox uniform, turns 45 on Thursday. Dunn is 32. Yet there is a father-son type of dynamic developing here.
"You know you're doing something right [as a manager] when the first thing you do [as a player] when you make a mistake is think, `I let him down,'" Dunn said. "It's like a parent.
"All the so-called player managers are even keel. You know what you're going to get each and every day. At the end of the day, it's over. Go get 'em."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.