Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale took his rehab assignment to Portland, Maine on Thursday night and pitched well in front of a sold-out crowd at Hadlock Field.
In his third rehab start of the month, Sale allowed just one run on four hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts over four solid innings of work in Double-A Portland’s 15-4 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
After retiring six of the first seven batters he faced, Sale issued a leadoff single in the top of the third that was immediately followed by a run-scoring double off the bat of New Hampshire’s Chris Bec. He managed to strand Bec with the help of an inning-ending double play and then struck out the side in his fourth and final frame.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 52 (36 strikes), Sale induced 17 swings-and-misses while mixing in his fastball (both two- and four-seam), slider, and changeup with Elih Marrero doing the catching.
According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, who was on-hand in Portland, Sale sat between 91-96 mph with his heater and topped out at 96 mph with it on four separate occasions.
This was the third outing of Sale’s rehab assignment but his first at the upper levels of the minor-leagues. The 33-year-old southpaw previously made two starts in the rookie-level Florida Complex League on June 20 and June 25, respectively.
It is believed that Sale will need to make one more rehab start as he continues to work his way back from a stress fracture in his right rib cage that he suffered back in February. He began the season on the 60-day injured list because of it and then had his throwing program paused in May due to a non-baseball health concern related to his family’s medical history.
With the Sea Dogs on the road in Binghamton next week, it seems likely that Sale will make his next start for Triple-A Worcester as the WooSox will be hosting the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park.
If he could get stretched out to five innings in his next minor-league outing, Sale could potentially be in line to join the Red Sox and come off the 60-day injured list before the All-Star break.
(Picture of Chris Sale: Elsa/Getty Images)