BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale was downright dominant against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, earning his first regular season win at Fenway Park in over a year.
Sale was filthy against the Jays, and the Red Sox offense actually scored some runs for their ace in a 5-0 victory. Sale struck out 12 Jays in his six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and issuing two walks in his outing.
This was an important start for Sale, who had allowed five runs in each of his last three times on the mound. The lefty had it going against the Blue Jays from the time he took the bump, striking out the side in the first inning — all on swing and misses. He also struck out the side in the fifth inning, fanning Toronto’s No. 3 hitter Lourdes Gurirel swinging at a 96 MPH fastball to end the frame. His command and fastball got stronger as the game progressed, as Sale needed just 12 pitches to shut the Jays down in order in the sixth inning on three groundouts.
After the victory, Sale credited better control over his fastball and slider, and his ability to use his changeup as an out pitch, for Thursday’s results.
“I had a lot better feel for my changeup today, which is something I really haven’t had all year. I was able to use my changeup as an out pitch instead of just a show pitch,” said Sale, who got five outs — including two of his strikeouts — with his changeup.
Sale exited after the sixth with 101 pitches, receiving high fives, fist bumps and hugs in the Boston dugout. The bullpen held on with two shutouts innings from Marcus Walden and a scoreless ninth from rookie Darwinzon Hernandez.
With the win, Sale improves to 4-9 on the season and watched his ERA drop from 4.27 to 4.05. The victory is his first at Fenway Park during the regular season since July 11, 2018.
“I got nobody else to blame but myself,” he said of his lack of luck at Fenway. “But I’m glad to get this one out of the way and focus on what’s ahead. Hopefully keep the ball rolling.”
Sale now has 11 starts with 10 or more strikeouts this year, tying him with Houston’s Gerrit Cole for the most in the majors. He also has 14-strikeout and 17-strikeout games this season, but did not earn a win for either of those efforts.
The Boston bats took some time to give Sale his run support, but they came alive in the bottom of the fifth. After Sandy Leon gave Boston a 1-0 lead with an RBI single, Rafael Devers broke the game open with a three-run homer of Jays starter Thomas Pannone. The blast was Devers’ 19th home run of the season. Mookie Betts added a solo homer, his 14th of the season, in the seventh inning.
Thursday’s win marks just the third time all season that the Boston offense has scored more than three runs for Sale. The Red Sox took three of four from the Jays at Fenway Park, and now head to Baltimore for a three-game weekend series against the Orioles.