BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale has been one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball through his first eight starts with the Red Sox. In fact, he’s been close to historic – and he has a chance to tie his own major-league record on Friday night.
Sale will try to hit his eighth straight start with at least 10 strikeouts when he takes on the A’s in Oakland on Friday, which would tie his own record that he shares with Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez. Sale has struck out 10 or more batters in seven straight outings, and punched out at least 11 in four of them.
The big lefty is the major-league leader in strikeouts by a wide margin with 85 on the season; the Nationals’ Max Scherzer is in second place with 70.
The A’s, meanwhile, are particularly easy to strike out. They have struck out 355 times on the season, the second-most in the American League – a staggering 8.66 strikeouts per game. So you have to like Sale’s chances of getting to 10 once again. And with the Texas Rangers (354 strikeouts) expected to be Sale’s next outing, he could have a good chance at breaking his own record.
Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked about Sale’s tremendous start to the season when he spoke to reporters on Thursday, and said it all came down to the southpaw’s extreme competitiveness.
“He’s competitive in everything that we do here, whether it’s a ping pong game in spring training to [pitchers’ fielding practice],” said Farrell on Sale. “Never likes to waste his time not doing something toward winning and competing at something. I think that’s a really great quality.”
Farrell also believes that there’s been a trickle-down effect from Sale to other pitchers in the rotation. Eduardo Rodriguez, in particular, has a 3.05 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 41.1 innings and generally appears to be working quicker in his starts.
“I think [Sale’s] attack of hitters has rubbed off on other pitchers that we have on our staff,” said Farrell. “He’s a leader in his own right.”
The Red Sox rotation may be in trouble at the back end right now, but the top of the staff with Sale has had no issues.