BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale almost made some history on Tuesday night.
The left-hander began his outing against Colorado with six consecutive strikeouts to begin the game. Had he retired one more batter via strikeout to start the game, he would have matched the American League record.
Alas, David Dahl grounded out to second base for the first out of the third inning, bringing to an end Sale’s big for strikeout history.
Sale followed up that groundout by striking out Chris Iannetta.
The American League record for most strikeouts to start a game is seven, most recently accomplished last year’s AL Cy Young winner, Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell. Two other pitchers — Joe Cowley for the 1986 White Sox, Carlos Rodon for the 2016 White Sox — have begun outings with seven consecutive strikeouts.
The major league record for most strikeouts to start a game is eight, set by Jim Deshaies for Houston in 1986. Jacob deGrom matched that mark for the Mets in 2014.
Sale opened Tuesday night’s start getting Charlie Blackmon to strike out looking, followed by swinging strikeouts for Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado. In the second, Mark Reynolds and Raimel Tapia struck out swinging, before Ian Desmond was rung up looking at strike three.
Needing one more K to tie the AL record, Sale fell behind Dahl 2-0. Dahl fouled off the 2-0 offering before grounding out on the 2-1 pitch.
After striking out Iannetta for his seventh of the night, Sale got Pat Valaika to swing over a full-count slider for yet another strikeout.
Sale was perfect in one full turn through the Colorado lineup, recording eight strikeouts and allowing zero base runners. Through three innings, Sale had thrown 47 pitches, 29 for strikes.
Sale did surrender a two-run home run to Arenado in the seventh inning, costing him the chance at a shutout. But Sale’s night ended with a career-high 17 strikeouts over seven innings, a stretch where he allowed just three hits and didn’t walk a single batter.
Sale’s previous career high for strikeouts in a single outing was 15.
Unfortunately for Sale, though, Brandon Workman surrendered a two-run home run in the eighth inning, giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead and costing Sale what would have been one of the very best victories of his career.
The Red Sox ended up losing 5-4 in 11 innings.