TORONTO -- Chris Sale typically isn't all that big on personal milestones, but even he couldn't help but admit that reaching 1,500 strikeouts faster than any pitcher in history is a feat to appreciate.Sale's impressive accomplishment happened en route to his latest masterpiece performance, which led his Red Sox to
TORONTO -- Chris Sale typically isn't all that big on personal milestones, but even he couldn't help but admit that reaching 1,500 strikeouts faster than any pitcher in history is a feat to appreciate.
Sale's impressive accomplishment happened en route to his latest masterpiece performance, which led his Red Sox to a 3-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.
The lefty ace got No. 1,500 by freezing Kevin Pillar on his signature wipeout pitch, an 81.9-mph slider for the second out of the second inning. It took the 28-year-old Sale 1,290 innings to get halfway to 3,000 K's.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kerry Wood was the previous record holder by reaching 1,500 in 1,303 innings. Pedro Martinez (1,337 innings), Randy Johnson (1,365 2/3), Nolan Ryan and current Nationals ace Max Scherzer (1,394) round out the top five.
"That's pretty crazy," said Sale. "This game has been around a long time. To do that is cool. I appreciate it. I try not to get too caught up in it, but I definitely take a step back and look at it and appreciate it."
That's about as reflective as Sale will get during a season. If there's one thing that's become clear in his first season with the Red Sox, it is the laser focus he takes to the mound.
In his first 27 starts with his new team, Sale is 15-6 with a 2.77 ERA and 264 strikeouts over 185 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .197 against him.
"You marvel at his pitchability. You marvel at his overall stuff," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's blessed with such uniqueness from a delivery standpoint and physical abilities. ... It's hard for me to fathom a guy could record that many strikeouts in less than 1,300 innings. Really remarkable."
Sale has been on a strikeout binge in his first season in Boston. He has 17 double-digit strikeout games, which leaves him within two of Pedro Martinez (1999) for the club record in a season. If Sale can get 50 more strikeouts in 2017, he will break Martinez's club record of 313, which was also set in '99.
Much like Martinez late in the 20th century, there is anticipation each time Sale takes the mound.
"I've watched it a number of times from the other side," said Red Sox left fielder Rajai Davis. "It's always nice when I don't have to do much work out there in left field or in the outfield. That's fun. Watching him do his thing, that was exciting ball."
The only thing different heading into Tuesday is that Sale was actually coming off a bad start, something he's had precious few of this season and in his career.
But you could tell early that his three-inning, seven-run performance five days ago against the Indians was going to become a distant memory in short order.
"Yeah, he's such a competitor and whether you make amends the next time out, even though it's against a different club, we're in a tight ballgame," said Farrell. "He needed to pitch that well tonight to put zeroes up on the board. I know he's had good success against this team this year in particular, but he needed to be on his game."
The Blue Jays have seen this act many times before. Sale hasn't allowed a run to them this season and is 6-1 with a 1.33 ERA in eight career starts against Toronto.
"He has been doing that for a few years now," said Jays manager John Gibbons. "He has that reputation and he has the results."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.