At Long Last, Chris Sale is Back
Today was a fantastic day. For the first time in over two years, Red Sox fans everywhere got to celebrate Sale Day. Chris Sale made his season debut on Saturday after missing all of 2020 and the end of 2019, and the question on everyone’s mind was, of course, would we be getting the full Chris Sale experience? Would Sale be rusty, or would he be just what the team needs to make a push for the division?
The man known as the Slim Reaper resoundingly answered those questions, pitching 5 great innings. Of course, it was against Baltimore, who probably couldn’t win the Arizona Fall League, but the start was massively encouraging nonetheless.
Sale started the game with a great first inning, striking out two and allowing a single on a swinging bunt that traveled literally 3 feet according to Baseball Savant. He followed it up with an even better second, striking out another batter to go along with two groundouts. To the glee of Red Sox Nation, Sale looked like peak Sale.
The lefty did run into some trouble in the third, but truly not much. He retired the first two batters on a strikeout and a grounder, then allowed his only pieces of hard-contact (95 MPH exit-velocity or above) of the night. Both were solo homers, but only the second was an actual solid piece of hitting. The first of the two was a 314-foot popup with an expected batting average of .120. It was a batted-ball that would have been a lazy flyout in 29 of the 30 major league stadiums. The result wasn’t what you want, but it was far from evidence that Sale was very hittable.
Sale struck out Pedro Severino after allowing the homers, then returned for the fourth where struck out two more while allowing one hit. In the fifth, Sale gave up two singles to lead off the inning, but got a strikeout and induced a double-play to end the threat.
Boston scored 7 in the bottom half of the inning, and decided Sale probably didn’t need to come out with a 14-2 lead. He ended with a line of 5 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks, and 8 strikeouts, earning the win on only 89 pitches.
Chris Sale is absolutely key to Boston’s postseason hopes. If he can pitch like the ace that he has been for nearly his entire career, it will provide a colossal boost to the team’s rotation. He’s only made one start this season, but so far, it is looking like Sale could be that ace.