BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale looked a little better Tuesday night in New York. But a little better really doesn’t cut it right now.
Sale saw an uptick in velocity on his fastball, but his results against the Yankees were the same as his previous three starts this season: Not good. Boston’s ace was tagged for four runs off seven hits over his five innings, and now sits at 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA following Boston’s 8-0 loss to their rival.
“This is flat-out embarrassing,” Sale told reporters after his outing. “For my family, for our team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets.”
While Sale’s fastball velocity was up, flirting with 97 on the radar gun, its effectiveness continues to be the issue. Sale struggled with his command of the pitch, and generated only one swing and a miss on his 36 fastballs on the night.
“It sucks,” Sale said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I just flat-out stink right now. I don’t know what it is.”
Sale relied heavily on his slider Tuesday night, turning to it on nearly half of his pitches. Overall, he generated 12 swing and misses en route to his six strikeouts.
But even though his fastball is getting closer to its usual velocity, Sale is frustrated that he can’t get any outs with the pitch.
“Need to get results,” he said. “Doesn’t matter how hard you throw or how fancy, you need to throw up zeroes.”
Sale made it look easy through the first two innings Tuesday night, setting down the first six Yankees he faced. Even when Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the third with a double, it looked like Sale would get out of the inning unscathed when he got Austin Romine to fly out and set down Mike Tauchman with one of those filthy sliders. He got to 1-2 on DJ LeMahieu, but left a 2-2 fastball over the plate. The Yankees leadoff man smacked it to right field for an RBI single, and after a six-pitch walk to Aaron Judge, Luke Voit plated another run with an RBI single of his own — also off a Sale fastball that caught too much of the plate.
Clint Frazier led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer off a less-than-stellar changeup from Sale. And when the lefty tried to sneak another slider by Tauchman later in the inning, New York’s No. 9 hitter roped it to right for a double to drive in another Yankees run.
The Red Sox now sit at 6-12 on the season, and their starting rotation has surrendered 114 runs — the most allowed in the Majors. The group needs Sale to be their stopper, someone they can rely on to give them a quality start every time he steps on the mound. That has not been the case in his first four outings, pitching into the sixth inning just once.
“I have to pitch better. I keep saying the same things, but at the end of the day, you go out and give up four runs there, five runs there, seven runs there. If I get into the sixth, seventh inning like I should, that’s who I am,” he said. “I’m supposed to pitch the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, finish games and save our bullpen. Gotta cut it off when we’re losing and keep the winning streaks going. That’s not who I’ve been.”
Boston manager Alex Cora remains optimistic that his team can turn their season around, and he’s confident that Sale will return to his ace form soon.
“I’m not going to be surprised if his next outing he’s right where we need him to be,” said Cora. “Stuff-wise, compare it to the first three with the velocity was there, the slider was a lot better, he’s very close to the ‘real Chris Sale.'”
So will it be the “real Chris Sale” be taking the mound next Monday against the Tigers?
“You’d better [expletive] hope so,” Sale said.