By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale certainly has a great mid-90s fastball, but his slider is also one of the filthiest in the game. He showed how dominant the pitch can be in his Red Sox debut on Wednesday night, when the Pirates had trouble touching it all night.
Sale struck out seven batters in seven dominant innings, five of which by way of the slider. It consistently dove off the plate and flummoxed Pirates hitters.
He made poor Starling Marte look particularly hapless with two K’s on the slider in his first two at-bats – one of which almost hit Marte in the foot.
Sale sure looked as advertised on the mount on Wednesday night, but he was quick to credit “good defense” behind him and a good job calling the game by walk-off hero Sandy Leon.
“I felt good. I felt confident. I felt I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes,” Sale told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jonny Miller after the game. “Credit goes to Sandy, though. He was the one calling the pitches, I was just the one throwing them.
“When you can have confidence in your guy behind the plate, that’s huge.”
Leon is better known around these parts for his incredible hitting since the middle of last season, which continued on Wednesday. But to hear Sale heap praise on Leon’s ability to call the game behind the plate was striking.
Still, that slider. That pitch alone makes Sale must-see TV every time he takes the mound.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.