Red Sox ace Chris Sale joins elite territory with 15 strikeout game
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale became the third pitcher in franchise history to strike out 15 batters in a game without walking any.
Chris Sale deserved better. The lefty pitched a nine inning gem against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. Unfortunately, nine innings wouldn’t be enough to decide this game. The Boston Red Sox bullpen blew another opportunity after pitch count dictated that Sale’s night was done.
Sale has now made nine starts this season and has only three wins to show for it despite a sparkling 2.17 ERA. Boston has lost four of those starts, although the stater has been responsible for only one of those losses.
He deserved a win, yet Sale will have to settle for making history. He struck out 15 batters over his nine innings of work without issuing a walk. He’s the first pitcher this season to record that many K’s in a game without a walk. Sale joins elite company as only the third pitcher in franchise history to accomplish this feat, joining Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens.
The night got off to a rocky start for Sale, who uncharacteristically allowed a run in each of the first two innings. The Red Sox may not be able to prove the Blue Jays were stealing signs but it was clear they believed it was happening. Toronto has a reputation for using this cheap tactic when they play at home and the Jays hitters were all over everything Sale threw early in the game.
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Catcher Sandy Leon pivoted to using multiple signs to confuse any prying eyes. Whether or not that really made the difference, we’ll never know, yet Sale was nearly untouchable the rest of the night.
Sale threw a season-high 116 pitches in his first nine inning effort since 2016. He was extremely efficient with those pitches, throwing 85 of them for strikes. Sale joined Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco as the only pitchers to throw 85 strikes in a game this year. Sale was one of only six pitchers to do so all of last season.
This was the second consecutive start and third of the season in which Sale has tallied double-digit strikeouts. He’s not quite on last year’s 300+ strikeout pace that challenged the franchise record but his 12.1 K/9 still ranks third among qualified major league starters this season.
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Sale enters the day fifth in the American League in ERA, sixth in WHIP and second in strikeouts. He’ll struggle to top last year’s win total if his bullpen continues to let him down but he remains in the thick of the Cy Young race once again.