BOSTON -- The warmest person at frigid Fenway Park on Wednesday night was the lefty ace with no long sleeves under his jersey.After four months of build-up, Chris Sale finally got to pitch in a regular-season game for the Red Sox. He was revved up for the occasion, which culminated
BOSTON -- The warmest person at frigid Fenway Park on Wednesday night was the lefty ace with no long sleeves under his jersey.
After four months of build-up, Chris Sale finally got to pitch in a regular-season game for the Red Sox. He was revved up for the occasion, which culminated with his new team pulling out a 3-0 win in 12 innings on Sandy Leon's three-run walk-off home run.
With near pinpoint command, Sale dazzled over seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out seven.
"I get nervous before every game. Tonight was a little bit different, obviously," said Sale. "It was my first time pitching here in the home whites. Running out of the first-base dugout is pretty awesome. It was special. I appreciated it, too. I tried to go through my routine and do everything I normally do but also soak it all in at the same time."
It was a night Sale won't forget any time soon, particularly when he came off the mound after the seventh to a loud ovation from the crowd of 36,137. The Fenway faithful knew that after 104 pitches, Sale wouldn't be coming back out for the eighth. Not at this early stage of the season, when the temperature at game time was 40 degrees.
"Walking out to the bullpen today before I even threw my first warmup pitch, people were losing their minds," said Sale. "Walking off in the seventh inning, that's another feeling I'll never forget. That's special. That's awesome. And I appreciate it."
The Pirates didn't much appreciate what Sale was throwing at them either. He mixed in a balance of mid 90s heat and that wicked slider you've probably heard about. There were 14 swings and misses by the Pirates out of Sale's 104 pitches.
"He worked quick and it was cold, so we probably fed off each other in that regard," said Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon, who also fired seven shutout innings. "It was definitely a cool atmosphere. I heard the ovation he got before the game in the bullpen. That was pretty cool."
Cool was a fitting choice of words on this night. But after spending his first seven Major League seasons with the White Sox, Sale was unfazed by the early-season conditions.
"Yeah, everyone has to play in it," said Sale. "It's just part of it early in the season and late in the season. That's what we sign up for. The other team has to play in it, too. You deal with it and just play."
And in Sale's case, you dominate.
"It was amazing, his will to win," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "It's amazing to be behind him. He's very determined. You can tell once he gets the ball, he feels like he's the best guy on that field. He really showed up tonight."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.