BOSTON (CBS) — The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t stand a chance against an angry Chris Sale.
Still fuming from his worst outing of the season seven days ago, Sale dominated the Rays to the tune of eight shutout innings and 13 strikeouts in Boston’s 2-0 victory on Tuesday night. The win was Sale’s American League-leading 14th of the year, and Boston’s seventh straight.
Sale struck out the first two batters of the game, both looking, and retired the first 10 Rays to step to the plate with ease. Tampa didn’t have a base runner until the fourth inning off a throwing error by third baseman Rafael Devers, and didn’t get a hit off of Sale a fifth inning single by Wilson Ramos. The Boston lefty quickly retired the side after each, and went on to strike out the final two batters in each the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. He ended his night in dominating fashion with an 11-pitch eighth, ending his night the same way it started by getting Peter Bourjos looking — one of the center fielder’s three strikeouts on the night.
Sale was simply filthy (again) on Tuesday, with overpowering zip on his fastball and unfair movement on his slider. It’s absurd what the man can do with a baseball:
Of Sale’s 112 pitches on Tuesday, 80 of them went for strikes. He made quick work of the Rays and helped Boston boost their lead in the AL East to four games over New York and 6.5 games over Tampa.
The 13 strikeout performance gives Sale 15 starts this year with 10 or more punchouts, and puts him in the conversation with some of the most dominating strikeout seasons since 2000. He’s up to 229 K’s on the year, and matched Pedro Martinez’s 15 double-digit strikeout games in 2000. Sale is staring down history with that intimidating glare he displays on the mound, with a chance at matching the MLB record held by Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan, who had 23 double-digit K games in 2001 and 1973, respectively.
Pedro. Big Unit. Ryan Express. Pretty solid company for Sale.
While catching those K Kings is no guarantee, Sale should have no problem taking home his first-ever Cy Young award when the year comes to a close. Given what he’s meant to the Red Sox, there’s a good chance he’ll snag a few MVP votes as well.