Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale became the fastest pitcher in major league history to record 1,500 career strikeouts during Tuesday’s win in Toronto.
Chris Sale was cruising through the second inning, carving up the Toronto Blue Jays lineup as we’ve seen him do many times before. It seemed almost routine watching the ace of the Boston Red Sox staff catch Kevin Pillar looking at a called third strike. While this was merely the beginning of another Sale masterpiece, that strikeout proved to be a significant milestone.
Sale’s third strikeout of the night marked the 1,500th of his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sale reached that plateau faster than any pitcher in major league history, in terms of innings pitched.
The 1,290 innings that it took to reach 1,500 K’s easily topped the previous record holder, Kerry Wood (1,303).
"“That’s pretty crazy. This game’s been around a long time,” Sale told reporters in reaction to learning of this acheivment. “To do that, it’s cool. I appreciate it. Try not to get too caught up in it, but I definetly take a step back and look at that and appreciate it.”"
Red Sox fans will recognize the third name on the list. Pedro Martinez reached 1,500 strikeouts during his second season in Boston. Pedro set a single-season franchise record during that infamous 1999 season en route to capturing the first of consecutive Cy Young awards.
Sale is on pace to challenge that record. After dismantling the Blue Jays lineup last night, his strikeout total stands at 264 through 27 starts. Assuming he makes five more starts this season, Sale should end up on the verge of Pedro’s record 313 strikeouts.
The left-hander notched his league-leading 15th win of the season against the Blue Jays. Sale tossed seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits without a walk and striking out 11. He took a one-hitter into the eighth inning but was pulled after allowing consecutive base hits to begin the inning. Addison Reed escaped the jam with the lead intact, keeping Sale’s ERA unblemished.
Sale has now faced Toronto three times this season and hasn’t allowed a run over 22 innings against the Jays. He has tallied 35 strikeouts over the course of those starts for a staggering 14.3 K/9. Coming off his worst start of the season in Cleveland, facing a team he’s dominated throughout his career was all Sale needed to get back on track.
While the Indians may have his number, the opposite is true for the Blue Jays. Sale is now 5-2 with a 1.68 ERA in 10 career appearances (seven starts) against Toronto. That represents his second lowest ERA against any team that he’s faced at least 10 times, trailing only the 1.51 ERA he owns against the New York Yankees.
The outing lowered Sale’s season ERA to 2.77 to go along with a 0.91 WHIP. Both figures rank second in the league behind Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, who did the Red Sox a favor by beating the Yankees the previous night. A Cy Young race Sale once seemed to be running away with has suddenly turned into a tight battle.
This has been a season filled with milestones for Sale. He may not be done challenging the record books, making his remaining few starts a must for Red Sox fans to watch.