Immaculate Sale backed by Dalbec's 7 RBIs

Red Sox ace clocked at 98 mph, improves to 3-0 in 3rd start of season

August 27th, 2021

BOSTON -- If there was any doubt that was back, he quieted that notion in the third inning of Thursday night’s series finale against the Twins at Fenway Park.

Three up, three down on nine pitches, all strikes -- an immaculate inning. The last Red Sox pitcher to complete the feat? Sale, on June 5, 2019, vs. the Royals. And the pitcher before that game? Once again, Sale (May 8, 2019, vs. the Orioles).

Sale’s dominance extended beyond just the third inning: He threw 5 1/3 frames in a 12-2 victory over Minnesota, with the left-hander earning his third win and Boston the series win.

“He was good, he showed us that he has something in the tank,” manager Alex Cora said.

The Red Sox ace cruised through his first four innings, racking up eight strikeouts while not allowing a hit. Sale, who pitched five innings in each of his first two starts, then ran into trouble in the fifth.

One play after Christian Arroyo made a diving stop on a Luis Arraez liner to preserve the no-hitter, Sale gave up a dribbler to Ryan Jeffers. The single ended the no-no and set up Willians Astudillo for a two-run homer, which the Twins’ third baseman sent sailing into the Monster seats in the next at-bat.

The homer was Sale’s only blunder on what ended up being a historic night for both the lefty, and for the Twins. Sale’s immaculate inning marked the first time in the club’s history that they were a part of such a feat, on either side of the ball.

“I don’t remember if I’ve been part of an immaculate inning,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Sale’s feat. “[Major League coach Bill Evers] looked right at me, next to me on the bench, and said, ‘That was nine pitches, nine strikes.’ I was not locked in on that fact. I was thinking about looking at other things.”

Flashy feats aside, Sale’s velocity was perhaps the most encouraging sign for the Red Sox. Entering his third start, the lefty averaged 92.7 mph on his fastball. On Thursday night, the pitch averaged 94.3 mph for Sale. In his first start since returning from Tommy John surgery, Sale’s fastball topped out at 96 mph on Aug. 14, and hovered around the same velocity (95.6) in his second start (Aug. 20). Thursday vs. the Twins, Sale hit 98 mph for the first time this season.

Was it a coincidence that Sale reached his highest velocity of 2021 on the pitch that followed Astudillo’s homer?

“That’s probably the most [angry] I’ve been on the baseball field in a while,” Sale said. “That’s just coming out of anger and frustration. … Today was probably the best my mechanics have been [from] start to finish.”

An immaculate inning, just two runs allowed and a third straight victory, how would Sale rate his outing?

“I guess it was good enough,” Sale said. “I would have really liked to have gotten through that sixth inning. But hey, at this point you can’t really complain about it. I want to be better out there next time, I want to finish that inning. But coming back after a game like today, that puts you in a good mood, gets you on a good flight. Gets us off on the right foot for this next series in Cleveland.”

Have a night, Bobby D!
Sale was backed by a strong showing from the offense, highlighted by a multi-homer night from . His first, a three-run shot, got Boston on the board in the second. Dalbec’s second homer (16th of the season) came in the seventh, a two-run jack into the hands of a Sox fan in the first row of the Monster. The first baseman went 3-for-4 with seven RBIs and three runs to earn a curtain call from the Fenway faithful.

“It was awesome,” Dalbec said of hearing the fans chant his name. “Crazy feeling. Just something you dream about as a kid.”

Dalbec’s monster night comes in the midst of an impressive stretch for the 26-year-old. In his last seven games, Dalbec is batting at a .313 clip with a .750 slugging percentage. Dalbec didn’t point to any adjustments he’s made in the past couple weeks, but said he’s just “trying to treat every pitch like it’s the best one I’m going to get this at-bat.”

Whatever it is, Cora is happy with what he’s seen from the 26-year-old.

“Forget the home runs, I was more happy with the [runners on] second-and-third [situation in the sixth], base hit up the middle, that’s what we’re looking for,” Cora said. “Obviously the homers are great, but that was a great at-bat. And he made a nice play at first base, all around pretty solid. It was good to see.”