Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale had himself another very strong start Tuesday night vs. the Yankees. Over 6 IP, he struck out 8 and walked none while allowing just 1 run from 8 hits. His lone blemish came from an Aaron Judge home run in the 5th inning with Boston already up 5 and seemingly cruising towards another victory.
While the numbers might not be quite as dominant as we’re used to seeing from Sale, a closer look at his outing paints the picture of a pitcher completely in control on the mound.
Sale looked to have taken it fairly easy in his first two starts of the year, perhaps easing into his game and making sure to not overextend himself so early in the season. That was most certainly not the case last night at Fenway.
(Photo credit: USA Today)
Over his first two starts, Sale’s fastball had averaged 92 mph and not once registered anything faster than 95. Yesterday, his heater averaged 93 mph and clocked in at +95 seven times, including 97 mph twice. His devastating changeup, normally around 86 mph, was coming in at almost 88, on average. Add in a slider that possessed all of the bite it had been at times missing through his first 2 appearances, and Sale had his full arsenal working for him.
Aside from the home run to Judge (in which he left a fastball waist high), he was dealing, particularly against the other two members of the Yankees’ new “murderers row.” He struck out Stanton twice, easily garnering missed swings on a steady flow of high heat, and Sanchez once, on a gorgeous slider low and inside that had him off-balance and chasing.
Additionally, those slight command issues he had in his first 2 outings were all but gone. Sale threw an incredibly impressive 75% of his pitches for strikes (65 of 87), routinely painting the corners and putting the ball exactly where Christian Vazquez called for it.
Although he gave up a rare 8 hits in his 6 innings, most of the batted balls hit against Sale (78%, in fact) were softly hit, according to Fangraphs, including a bloop single to shallow right by Austin in the 2nd, a soft line drive single by Judge in the 3rd, and a weak infield single against the shift for Gregorius in the 4th, with the only extra base hit he allowed being that round trip to Judge.
Overall, Sale provided the exact kind of performance Boston needed to kick off this difficult stretch of games, and it was all the more satisfying that it happened to be against their arch nemesis, the New York Yankees.