Making his final regular season start in game two of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night, Chris Sale looked to make any final adjustments needed before heading into his consecutive postseason with the Red Sox.
In what was his 27th start of the season and fourth since returning from the disabled list earlier in the month, the left-hander tossed nearly five innings, surrendered three runs on four hits, one walk, and two HBPs to go along with eight strikeouts on the night.
Coming off a standard four days rest in this one, it was a bit surprising to see Sale struggle the way he did in the first, as he hit two of the first four batters he faced while allowing two Orioles runs to cross the plate.
From that point, the 29-year-old retired nine of the next 11 hitters he faced before running into more trouble in the fifth, where he allowed a leadoff single to Caleb Joseph, recorded the first two outs of the inning, walked Trey Mancini on five pitches, and gave up an RBI single to Adam Jones, which plated the go-ahead run at the time from second base.
Clearly frustrated with himself, that is how Sale’s night would come to a conclusion.
On a more positive note, Wednesday’s performance was the most work the Florida native has gotten in a start since July 27th against the Minnesota Twins.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (58 strikes), Sale threw 34 four-seam fastballs, 29 sliders, 25 changeups, and five two-seam fastballs. He was caught by Christian Vazquez.
Topping out at 94.5 MPH with that four-seamer in the fifth inning, the former White Sox hurler induced 14 total swinging strikes and got 12 called for strikes.
Picking up the no-decision with his ERA inflating a bit, we can now officially say Sale’s 2018 campaign is in the books. Let’s take a look at some of his numbers from this season:
27 GS, 158 IP, 102 H, 39 R (37 ER), 34 BB, 237 K, 2.11 ERA, 0.86 WHIP
Pretty decent campaign for the southpaw in his second season with Boston. Given the rather low number of innings pitched, it will be interesting to see how that influences the American League Cy Young voting. If not Sale, I would probably give my hypothetical vote Rays ace Blake Snell. Those results will be announced on November 14th.
Outside of the individual accolades, most Red Sox fans are enthralled to see how Chris Sale will perform postseason time, and he’ll get his first crack at that on Friday in game one of the ALDS. Whether it comes against the New York Yankees or Oakland Athletics has yet to be determined.
In his one and only postseason run last year, Sale posted an unsightly 8.38 ERA over two games (one start) and 9.2 innings pitched against the Houston Astros.
But, that was last season. Things could be different now given the fact Sale will make his first start of this year’s ALDS at Fenway Park for a change. We’ll have to wait and see.