LEADING OFF: Red Sox ace Sale returns following TJ surgery

National Sports

Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, center, who is on the disabled list, walks with teammates after a 20-8 win against the Tampa Bay Rays after a baseball game at Fenway Park, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

A look at what’s happening around the majors Saturday:

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SALE OF THE SEASON

Boston left-hander Chris Sale is scheduled to make his first big league appearance in just over two years when he faces the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.

The seven-time All-Star underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020 and missed last year’s pandemic-shortened season.

In five combined rehab outings this year between the Red Sox rookie-level affiliate, Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester, Sale pitched 20 innings, striking out 35 and allowing three runs.

The 32-year-old ace will pitch in a major league game for the first time since he started Aug. 13, 2019.

After helping the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series when he struck out then-Dodgers star Manny Machado for the final out, Sale went only 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts the following year, his fewest wins and highest ERA in a full season.

The struggling Red Sox hope Sale’s elbow is strong and that he can provide a spark for the final weeks of the regular season. He’s complied a 109-73 record with a 3.03 ERA and 2,007 strikeouts over 10 years in the majors.

BACK IN ACTION

The Yankees and White Sox move from Iowa to Chicago for the resumption of their three-game series. The teams were off Friday after Tim Anderson’s game-ending homer lifted the White Sox to a wild 9-8 victory Thursday night in baseball’s Field of Dreams game next to the filming site of the beloved 1989 movie.

New York sends right-hander Jameson Taillon (7-4, 3.82 ERA) to the mound looking to improve its playoff positioning. Chicago counters with right-hander Dylan Cease (9-6, 3.99), who is going for his third consecutive win.

MISSING MET

Recently acquired infielder Javier Báez has been put on the 10-day injured list by the Mets with back spasms.

He had not started the previous three games before the Mets made the move Friday ahead of a weekend series against the Dodgers.

New York got Báez right before the July 30 trade deadline from the Chicago Cubs along with pitcher Trevor Williams for 2020 first-round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong.

Since joining the Mets, the two-time All-Star is hitting .171 (6 for 35) with two homers and three RBIs in 10 games. Báez has played nine games at shortstop while Francisco Lindor recovers from a strained right oblique.

Overall, he is hitting .241 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs this year.

’FRISCO KID

Brandon Crawford plans to stay by the Bay. The San Francisco Giants shortstop agreed to a $32 million, two-year deal Friday that will take him through the 2023 season, a reward for the 34-year-old amid one of his best seasons yet.

The three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner was batting a career-best .296 with 19 homers and 69 RBIs entering Friday in the final season of a $75 million, six-year contract he signed in November 2015.

Crawford, who grew up in the Bay Area, is in his 11th season with San Francisco and has played 1,400 games, 11th on the franchise list. He could crack the Top 5 by the end of the contract, which would leave him trailing only Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds.

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