In eight innings, Sale (5-4, 2.83 ERA) walked one, struck out 10 and threw a 100.3 mph heater to strike out Daniel Palka. It was the fastest pitch a starting pitcher has thrown for a swinging strikeout this season.
Though the 43-21 Red Sox lead the Majors in wins, they are 7-7 in Sale's 14 starts. Friday's game had shades of May 11 in Toronto, when the lanky lefty struck out 15 over nine innings and Boston lost.
"He controls what he can control and he did an outstanding job doing that today," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "You saw the velocity. That was eye-opening. The changeup, the slider, he was great. He did an outstanding job for us."
Now in his seventh season as a starting pitcher, Sale had never hit triple digits before, but he did so twice on Friday. Sale did hit 100 several times as a reliever the first two seasons of his career.
The reasons for the uptick in velocity were two-fold, according to Sale. The first was the fact he had six days of rest as a by-product of Cora going with a six-man rotation this week. The second was that Sale was furious with himself by the way he had pitched in his previous two starts, when he gave up 10 runs in 10 1/3 innings in losses to the Braves and Astros.
"Give me two extra days, I hope and think that I can get like that every time," Sale said. "I had a couple extra work days this week, so I was able to get an extended bullpen in and work on some stuff, get back to what I needed to do. Added rest doesn't hurt anybody."
For the White Sox, Dylan Covey was tremendous, holding the Red Sox to three hits and a walk while striking out seven in six-plus innings.
"He threw, there were some good sinkers," Cora said. "He pitched inside, up in the zone. We've got to give him credit."
For Sale, the return to form was bittersweet because he lost for the third straight start, something he's done just five times in his career.
"I don't like losing. I hate losing. Not good at losing. I hate it," Sale said. "You get punched in the face twice and [if] you don't want to win the next one, this isn't for you. Just had a little extra incentive that way plus having a couple extra days and getting a little extra work in."
The White Sox broke the scoreless stalemate in the top of the seventh when Kevan Smith led off with a double to right and scored on a one-out, RBI single by Trayce Thompson.
"I mean, with pitching you're just trying to find a groove and keep rolling with it," Sale said. "Just trying to ride the wave as long as you can. Ran into a little hiccup there in the seventh but figured we could come out of it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Early rally falls short: The best rally the Red Sox had was in the bottom of the first, when red-hot Andrew Benintendi led off with a double high off the Green Monster and Brock Holt followed with a walk. But Covey swiftly righted himself, striking out Xander Bogaerts and inducing Mitch Moreland into a 3-6-1 double play. Moreland hit into another double play in the seventh.
"We didn't have too many chances, but we actually did in the first inning, man at second, no outs, we didn't score," Cora said. "Sometimes we're going to run into that."
SOUND SMART The last Red Sox starter to lose a start with 8-plus innings, 10-plus strikeouts and 1 or 0 ER runs allowed before Sale on Friday? The answer would be Sale on June 15, 2017, at Philadelphia. SInce 1908, Sale is the only Red Sox pitcher to lose two starts with that stat line.
HE SAID IT "Everyone would love to have 10 a game but, shoot, look at my last two starts, I flat-out sucked. So I'm not going to sit here and point fingers at anybody. Would I like to have won this game? Absolutely. So would everybody else in here. Kind of selfish of me to say something like that, especially looking at my last two leading up to this one. Hey, come in ready tomorrow. This kind of stuff happens. We're not saying this is who we are. This doesn't define us in any way. Just had an off night. It happens. Just come in ready to go tomorrow." -- Sale, refusing to bemoan his lack of run support at times this season
UP NEXT Lefty David Price (6-4, 4.08) will try to continue his recent roll when he faces the White Sox on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. In his last five starts, Price is 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA. The Red Sox are expected to have Martinez back in the lineup. The star right-handed hitter missed Friday's game with tightness in his back. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.