By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale pitched very well against the Yankees last season, but despite a 2.65 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 34 innings pitched, Sale was unable to pick up a win against Boston’s primary divisional rival during his first season in a Red Sox uniform.
Fortunately for Sale, it hasn’t taken long into the 2018 season for him to get that victory.
And, sure, seemingly any pitcher in baseball should have been able to win, after being supported by 14 runs of offense. But Sale’s quick work of the Yankees’ lineup in his tidy six innings on Tuesday ensured that the Red Sox’ win would be a laugher.
“Felt good tonight,” Sale said after improving to 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA on the young season. “Helps when they score two touchdowns and kick both [extra points]. So that’s nice.”
Sale overpowered Giancarlo Stanton twice for swinging strikeouts, he made sure Gary Sanchez’s ice-cold start to the season continued, and though he did allow eight hits and a bomb of a home run from Aaron Judge, Sale never allowed more than two base runners in any of his six innings. The lone time when two runners were on base at the same time, Sale struck out Stanton and Judge to extinguish the potential threat.
At just 87 pitches through six innings, Sale certainly could have gone deeper into the game. But with Boston bursting for nine runs in a very lengthy bottom of the sixth inning, his services were no longer needed.
Despite the success, Sale spoke to the challenge he faced in the potent Yankees lineup.
“There’s no letup there. That’s a heck of a lineup. And it just seems like one right after the other,” Sale said. “You gotta have your stuff together there in the first inning, because I could see how it could get out of hand quick. You just try to bear down and do the best you can, and try to get quick outs and get back in the dugout. Because when I seem to do that, we seem to score a lot of runs. And it’s a lot more fun watching us score.”
In his six starts against the Yankees now as a member of the Red Sox, Sale owns a 2.48 ERA and a 1.100 WHIP to go with 58 strikeouts and seven walks. Really, Sale should have picked up some wins last year against the Yankees, as he pitched at least seven innings in four of his five starts. But, baseball being baseball, Sale went 0-3, as the Sox scored just nine total runs combined in all five games.
Obviously, it was a rather different story on Tuesday night, with the Red Sox scoring their most runs in a game against the Yankees since August of 2009. While the win-loss record may not matter, Sale did admit that things are different whenever he takes the hill against the Yankees.
“I mean it’s hard to say no, honestly,” Sale said when asked if there’s a a little extra adrenaline pumping for his Yankees starts. “Obviously the both of us are really good teams, we’ve got really good lineups, we’re in the same division, long history together. So, yeah, there’s a little heightened sense, but at the end of the day you just try to go out there and do what you always do and not let it overwhelm you.”
For five out of six starts, Sale has been the one doing most of the overwhelming. Now he’s at least got a win to show for it.