Chris Sale was completely dominant in his return from the DL, striking out 12 Orioles batters in 5 innings on only 68 pitches. Alex Cora chose to limit his aces pitch count in this one, but Sale only needed the 5 innings to prove that his DL stint was nothing to be concerned about. He walked none and only gave up 1 hit in his 5 innings of work.
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Sale also got the win, improving his record to 12-4 while dropping his league leading E.R.A to an astonishing 1.97 for the year. He threw high velocity pitches in the start (even topping 100 with some fastballs), and extended his scoreless innings streak to 28! This kind of scoreless innings streak hasn’t been seen by a Red Sox player since Babe Ruth more than 100 years ago in 1916. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sale became the first pitcher at the current mound distance (since 1893) to throw five or fewer innings and allow one or fewer hits and strike out at least 12 batters.
Sale is looking to pick up his first Cy Young after finishing second in the competition last year and in the top 5 five times in total. It would appear that "The Conductor" currently would be the leading frontrunner for the award, though he continues to face pressure from Trevor Bauer of the Indians.
Sale’s ability to punch out batters has always been well known, but his strikeout rate this year is incredible. He has struck out 219 batters in only 146 innings pitched. Bauer has struck out 214 as of Monday, but has needed 20 more innings to do so. Sale currently averages 1.5 K’s an inning, which is the highest rate of his career. He averaged 1.44 strikeouts per inning last season, which was an increase from his previous high of 1.32 K’s per inning pitched in 2015. Incredibly, the Sox ace is currently the career record holder for most strikeouts per 9 IP, averaging 10.84 K’s per 9 innings. 5 time Cy Young winner Randy Johnson sits in second place with 10.61.
There are so many incredible aspects to this Red Sox season, and Chris Sale’s continued level of dominance is yet another important contributing piece. Look for Sale to continue mowing down opposing hitters and hopefully win his 1st Cy Young award this year.