CLEVELAND -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale's ramp-up for the start of the playoffs took another positive step on Friday night, when he got up to 73 pitches against the Indians. Boston wound up winning, 7-5.Prior to the game, manager Alex Cora had targeted five innings and 75 pitches. Sale
CLEVELAND -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale's ramp-up for the start of the playoffs took another positive step on Friday night, when he got up to 73 pitches against the Indians. Boston wound up winning, 7-5.
Prior to the game, manager Alex Cora had targeted five innings and 75 pitches. Sale wound up reaching that pitch count in 3 1/3 innings, thanks to some extended at-bats by the Indians.
Sale looked sharp for the most part, walking none, striking out seven and allowing five hits.
"Obviously during this process we're looking to build pitch count, try to rack up some innings in the meantime, so I would have liked to get through that inning with a little bit less of a pitch count, but it is what it is," said Sale.
And for the first time since July 6, Sale was scored upon.
Josh Donaldson snapped Sale's scoreless streak at 35 innings when he smashed a solo shot to left in the fourth. A second run was charged to Sale when Richard Hembree allowed one of his inherited runners to score on a two-run homer by Yan Gomes.
It was the longest scoreless streak by a Boston pitcher since Pedro Martinez also went 35 straight innings without allowing a run in 2002.
"I mean, I guess that kind of takes away from it a little bit, having some time off and being able to get rested and things like that. But I appreciate it," said Sale. "Anytime you're wearing this uniform and Pedro is in the same sentence you've got to be appreciative of it. Still kind of in awe about it, but found a good way to end it!"
Donaldson's homer was the first Sale allowed in 75 innings, dating back to June 1 in Houston, when George Springer took him out of the yard.
This was Sale's third start since returning from the disabled list on Sept. 11. Sale had been sidelined with mild inflammation in his left shoulder.
"That's a good team over there," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It was good to see him going, battling against [Jose] Ramirez there and making good pitches and changing speeds and throwing the breaking ball and all that. That's a good offensive team and it was a good test. He's feeling fine, so we'll see how he reacts the next few days and he'll make his next one Wednesday."
That start on Wednesday night at Fenway against the Orioles will be the last one for Sale in the regular season. He is all but certain to be Boston's starter for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Oct. 5 at Fenway.
Against the Indians, Sale topped out at 95.4 mph with his four-seamer and averaged 93.4 mph. He generated 11 swings and misses.
"He's pitching," said Cora. "The velocity will come up. It's more about repetitions. We saw 94, 95, I think it was. I really didn't pay much attention to it."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.