Chris Sale suffered his fifth loss of the 2019 season as the Boston Red Sox fell to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday at Fenway Park.
A nightmare season continued for Boston Red Sox lefty Chris Sale with the Tampa Bay Rays handing him his fifth loss.
Six starts into his 2019 campaign, Sale is still searching for his first win and he’s already surpassed the number of games he lost a year ago when he went 12-4. Sale had never lost more than two of his first six starts in any previous season of his career. His 6.30 ERA is easily the highest it has ever been this deep into a season.
This dismal stretch seems unfathomable for a pitcher of Sale’s caliber but it’s actually not unprecedented. Sale won his first nine starts in 2016 and would reach 14-2 before hitting a rough patch. He went 0-4 with a 4.43 ERA over his next six starts. The previous year, Sale went 0-4 with a 4.10 ERA in a six-game stretch late in the season before winning his final start to clinch a winning record. He had a seven-game streak without a win in 2013 during which he went 0-6.
Sale isn’t immune to this type of winless stretch, it only seems this shocking now because it’s happening at the beginning of the season. He’s survived these slumps before and still finished top-five on the Cy Young ballot in each of those previous years with a similar drought.
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Despite another loss, there are some positives to take away from Sale’s latest outing. He tossed a season-high seven innings and 111 pitches while striking out eight. The four runs isn’t ideal but only two of them were earned.
Rafael Devers botched a potential double-play that would have ended the second inning quickly. Instead, Sale was forced to throw an extra 15 pitches and it cost him a pair of unearned runs. Maybe Sale manages to last an extra inning in a much tighter game if it weren’t for the error. That probably means Heath Hembree isn’t on the mound in the ninth when the Rays scored another (unearned) run. The outcome could have been drastically different if not for that game-changing defensive miscue.
Sale fell to 0-5 put don’t put this loss on him. He certainly hasn’t pitched well this season and Sale still has a ways to go in order to get back to being the dominant ace we’re accustomed to seeing but he’s making progress. His defense let him down today and his offense provided very little run support. We haven’t been able to say this enough so far this season but Sale deserved better.