“I don’t know if I’ve ever thrown eight straight balls in my life,” Sale said. “That was definitely interesting. Credit to the mound visit, I got three punches after that.”
Sale got Riley Greene looking and then Spencer Torkelson and Eric Haase swinging to avoid damage.
When Sale returned to the dugout, Red Sox manager Alex Cora used the movie “Dodgeball” for inspiration.
“They said something like, ‘That’s an interesting strategy,’” Cora said. “He was close to the strike zone, just missing. He made some adjustments throughout.”
Sale laughed and said, “It’s just who he is, being able to alleviate some of that pressure. You’re out there and you’re kind of tense, and you get through it and you’re like, ‘All right.’ Come off the mound and you’ve got your manager going, ‘Bold strategy.’”
Sale gave up three runs on four hits while walking three and striking out seven over five innings to earn the victory, his first since Sept. 22, 2021.
After giving up a two-run home run in the second to Jake Rogers and an RBI single to Miguel Cabrera in the third, Sale had a 1-2-3 fourth inning on just six pitches in which things seemed to come together.
“My command was spotty today, but I think it was some mechanical things I was doing to put myself in those situations,” Sale said. “[Cora] handed me an iPad and said, ‘This is you, watch this at-bat. This is who you are.’ Then [pitching coach Dave Bush] came up and gave me a couple things, ‘Hey, just staying back a little bit longer, not getting too quick.’
“After that, it worked out a lot better. Credit to those guys seeing what they saw and getting me out of that quick, because today could have been a lot different. It was a couple quick adjustments, a couple words of encouragement and we’re right back at it.”
Sale also made sure to credit his teammates for supporting him, both offensively and defensively.
“I’ve said it for years, I’ve said it in Spring Training, I’ll continue to say it. Our offense just doesn’t let up,” Sale said. “It doesn’t matter if they have a bad day, a good day, you never know. Anything can happen at any time. They stepped up again today. They swung the bats incredible. A couple big homers and we come out with the win.”
Rafael Devers snapped an 0-for-12 skid with a fourth-inning home run off Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull, and then followed that with a deep RBI double in the sixth.
Adam Duvall pounced on reliever José Cisnero’s fastball for a three-run home run in the sixth.
“We’re sitting there, we’re down 2-0 pretty early,” Sale said. “They score another one, we’re down 3-1, and the whole time, they kept saying, ‘We’re going to pick you up. We’re good.’
“Just the confidence they have in themselves gives me confidence to just go out there and battle. Again, I didn’t have my best command, but I knew if I could just keep it in arm’s reach, we had a chance.”
Sale did not leave out Boston’s relievers when it came to handing out credit for Thursday’s win.
“The guys we have in our bullpen kept it right there the whole game,” Sale said. “That’s huge.”
Sale’s next chance for a victory might come Wednesday against the Rays at Tropicana Field, as Cora indicated they were considering having him start that game and Corey Kluber on Thursday.
Duvall shows no signs of slowing down after earning AL Player of the Week honors by hitting six extra-base hits and driving in eight runs in his first three games with the Red Sox.
Duvall had one RBI Monday against the Pirates and his three RBIs Thursday upped his season total to 12, the most by a player in their first six games as a member of the Red Sox.
“Just good at-bats, good at-bats,” Cora said. “The walk in the last at-bat, just very patient. He’s been missing some pitches. The first one got in a little bit on him, but that one, that’s another good swing. He’s been good for us. He’s a good defender. He understands what he’s trying to accomplish now, he’s understanding his swing. He’s off to a great start.”