BOSTON (CBS) — It may have been just his third start of the spring on Thursday, but Chris Sale isn’t making excuses for a fourth-inning mental miscue in the field.
Judging by the Boston lefty’s comments after his outing, you would have thought it was a heated start in the middle of a pennant race. The Boston pitcher was hard on himself after not covering first base on a grounder by Pittsburgh’s Gift Ngoepe, leaving Sox second baseman Josh Rutledge no one to throw to on the play. The out would have ended the inning.
Sale was clearly upset with himself for not covering the bag, and when he got the ball back he used it to punch himself in the head. He said after the game it was a “stupid mistake,” and there’s no excuse for making such a gaffe.
“We’ve done that 400,000 times since we’ve been here, covering first base. I’ve got to be better than that, even here,” he told reporters after the outing. “There’s no excuse for that at all.”
Sale quickly retired the next patter, Pittsburgh pitcher Ivan Nova, with his third and final strikeout of the afternoon. He went four innings on Thursday, allowing three earned runs off seven hits and no walks.
Those are not the results Sale wants whenever he toes the rubber, and despite feeling great during the start, he said locating his pitches was an issue.
“I didn’t feel sharp today,” Sale admitted. “I felt great, just not sharp. I wasn’t able to locate when I needed to.”
Sale praised the Boston defense for giving him a much-needed boost as he struggled early on, and doesn’t sound very concerned with what the Pirates were able to do against him in Thursday’s exhibition. The results will matter much more in three weeks, when he makes his real Boston debut against Pittsburgh on April 5 at Fenway Park.
And when that start rolls around, it’s safe to bet there will be no brain cramps from the new Boston lefty.