Sale fastest in AL history to 200-K plateau

July 28th, 2018

BOSTON -- Once again, Chris Sale brought the heat for the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park.

His latest masterpiece included six shutout innings, three hits, two walks and 10 strikeouts.

With unable to convert the save in the ninth, Sale got a no-decision instead of a win. But the important thing is that the Red Sox rode a game-tying solo shot by in the ninth and a walk-off blast by to a 4-3 victory over the Twins.

Though Sale has been a force for his entire career, his recent stretch has been amazing even by his standards.

In a nine-stretch start that started on June 8, Sale is 6-1 with a 0.75 ERA and has 12 walks and 98 strikeouts over 60 innings. During the surreal run, he hasn't allowed a homer.

"We expect that out of him, which is sometimes not fair," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It's like we kind of take him for granted, but we know how hard he works and how tough it is, because everybody gets up for Chris Sale. Right now, he's the best pitcher in baseball and he's up to the challenge. He's doing an outstanding job for us. "

And when Sale recorded all three of his outs on swinging strikeouts against the Twins in the top of the first, the lanky lefty became the first pitcher in the Majors to notch 200 K's this season. Max Scherzer reached 200 for the Nationals later on Friday.

Sale reached back for a 99.4-mph heater to fan for the third strikeout of the inning, giving him No. 200.

Sale reached the 200-strikeout mark in 136 innings, faster than any pitcher in American League history. Sale held the previous mark, set last season in 141 1/3 innings. It was the sixth consecutive season Sale has reached 200 strikeouts. The last time Sale finished with less than 200 was 2012, when he finished with 192.

Things are to the point with Sale where it's an event when he even gives up a run, something he hasn't done in five of his last six starts. Sale has given up one earned run or less in 15 of his 22 starts.

"I try to be good every time. I'll be completely honest, I'm not the biggest fan of talking about stuff like that," Sale said. "For me, when I'm handed the ball, I have a job to do and I try to do that job to the best of my ability, no matter what, no matter where we're playing, the temperature, the score, this guy, that guy, sore, not sore, flights, whatever, I try to win. It never changes, good, bad or indifferent."

With an AL-leading 2.04 ERA, Sale seems primed to finish strong. Cora continues to be careful with Sale's pitch count, pulling him at 100 rather than bringing him back out for the seventh. Cora did the same thing five days earlier in Detroit, taking him out at 99 pitches through six.

"I trust these guys," said Sale. "I know they put a lot of effort and time in figuring out where we need to be and what needs to happen."