ANAHEIM -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale joined an elite club on Friday night that is inhabited by legends only -- all of them first-ballot Hall of Famers.Sale's 112th and final pitch in Friday night's 6-2 victory over the Angels was a 95.8-mph heater that Kole Calhoun didn't even come
ANAHEIM -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale joined an elite club on Friday night that is inhabited by legends only -- all of them first-ballot Hall of Famers.
Sale's 112th and final pitch in Friday night's 6-2 victory over the Angels was a 95.8-mph heater that Kole Calhoun didn't even come close to catching up to.
The strikeout to end the sixth inning was Sale's 200th of the season.
A 200-strikeout season is considered impressive for any pitcher. To do it on July 21? That's another level of greatness.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sale joined Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in history to reach 200 strikeouts in 20 starts or less. Johnson, the only other lefty in the group, did it three times.
"It's cool. I definitely appreciate it," Sale said. "I'm not the biggest fan of looking into stuff like that. Those things are for the offseason or to one day tell my grandkids or something like that. But we've still got a lot of work to do, so I don't want to get caught up with stuff like that."
It's hard for the Red Sox and their fans to not get caught up in the level of Sale's dominance.
In his first 20 starts with his new team, Sale is 12-4 with a 2.48 ERA and is averaging 10 strikeouts per outing.
"I've not been around a pitcher that's had those kind of totals," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "The strikeout capability is certainly unique. He's an elite pitcher, and it's not just with one pitch. It's with three different ones he can get strikeouts with, but to see how consistent he's been with strikeouts totals is unique and certainly impressive."
Against the Angels on Friday night, Sale fired six shutout innings, walking two and striking out nine.
"He's deceptive. He uses both sides of the plate, has really good secondary pitches," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "We made him work to get to that point. We just couldn't get the key hit to get back in."
Sale is as stingy at giving up a key hit as he is at accepting praise for his start-to-start dominance.
An All-Star in all six seasons he's been a starting pitcher, the case could be made that Sale is pitching the best baseball of his career.
"I'm not here to talk about that kind of [stuff], man," said Sale. "We've got a long way to go. A long way to go and a lot of work to do. Looking forward to the rest of the season and just working hard."
At this point, it would be hard to imagine anyone but Sale winning the American League Cy Young Award. He leads in strikeouts, ERA and is tied for first in wins. Innings pitched, opponents batting average, opponents OPS, WHIP, K/9, K/BB are among the other categories in which he ranks at the top of the league.
"It's been great. He's a competitor," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "Got to love him going out there and the tenacity that he shows and it's fun playing behind him. Feel like every single time he's on the mound, he gives us a great opportunity to win the ballgame."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.