Chris Sale Probably Just Had Boston's Best Pitching Performance of the Year
BOSTON - Chris Sale, the ace of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff, is tall and lanky and injury-prone and has inspired hand-wringing from those worried he's losing his fastball. And what would he be without his fastball? But Sale isn't ready to be put out to pasture yet, and when he shows that, there's no pitcher more thrilling to watch. It's a work of beauty to watch peak Sale on the mound and that is exactly what we got last night when the Sox faced off against the Kansas City Royals.
Boston won last night with a score of 8-0, thanks to runs batted in by Rafael Devers, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Sandy Leon. But the offense played second fiddle to the stellar pitching on display from Sale last night.
Here's Sale's line: nine innings pitching, no runs allowed, no walks, and twelve strikeouts. He allowed only three hits and retired the last fifteen batters he faced, all consecutively. In today's modern age, any sort of shutout is impressive and Sale's was about as close to perfect as a pitcher can get without actually throwing a perfect game. But something else set Sale's start last night apart, something that hadn't been done in over ninety years.
You might recall that, earlier in the season, Sale recorded the fabled "immaculate inning" by striking out the side on nine pitches. Last night, during the eighth inning, Sale recorded this feat once again, becoming the first pitcher to have two immaculate innings in the same season since Lefty Grove did it all the way back in 1928. Sale and Grove are the only ones to ever achieve that in the history of baseball.
Immaculate innings are rare, but Sale is the league's master of strikeouts, and it makes sense that it would be his to achieve. The start was also so impressive that it dropped his earned run average on the season from 4.35 to 3.84. If Sale and the bullpen can keep this kind of performance up, they might just be able to lift this season's Red Sox to postseason glory.
Image via Flickr / Keith Allison