BOSTON -- The Red Sox fully expected Chris Sale would put up a lot of zeros, which is why they traded two of their top prospects to get him in that blockbuster deal nearly five months ago.But what couldn't be foreseen is the way the Boston bats have gone silent
BOSTON -- The Red Sox fully expected Chris Sale would put up a lot of zeros, which is why they traded two of their top prospects to get him in that blockbuster deal nearly five months ago.
But what couldn't be foreseen is the way the Boston bats have gone silent in Sale's first five starts for the team, all of which have been dominant.
In Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Yankees, the season's most annoyingly recurring theme reared its head again for the Red Sox.
Boston has scored a total of four runs this season in the 37 2/3 innings Sale has been the pitcher of record. That is an anemic run-support average of 0.96.
It is the reason Sale's record (1-2) doesn't match the prowess of his other numbers (1.19 ERA, .177 opponents average, 0.77 WHIP, Major League-leading 52 strikeouts).
To Sale's credit, he refuses to make any excuses about the lack of offense, and instead puts the blame entirely on himself, even if it's not warranted.
"The only frustration would be towards myself," said Sale. "I know what I need to do, and I just need to be better at it. I need to go out there and be better that last inning."
Sale displayed eight innings of filthiness before allowing the first three batters to reach in the ninth and then exiting the game.
Though the lanky lefty did give up a season high of eight hits, they were all singles. He permitted three runs (two earned), walked none and struck out 10. It was Sale's fourth straight start of double-digit K's on a night Masahiro Tanaka fired a three-hit shutout against Boston.
"It stinks to not put any runs on the board, especially with the way he's pitching," said Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
Sale is just the third Boston starter in the last 30 seasons who has received fewer than 10 runs of support in his first five starts of the season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
In 1988, Jeff Sellers received three runs in his first five starts. The 1991 Red Sox scored just eight runs for Greg Harris in his first five outings. But those pitchers weren't the caliber of Sale, which is why this stretch will continue to be magnified until it changes.
Not since Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez has a pitcher marked his arrival in Boston with this type of elite performance. Once the Red Sox start scoring for Sale, they'll be able to enjoy it more.
Sale will take the ball next on Tuesday night at Fenway against the Orioles.
"Hopefully next time we'll go out there and score two, three in the first inning," said Bogaerts. "Get that out of the way, so I'm looking forward to the next time he pitches trying to get us some runs early."
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the lack of consistent offense isn't just a problem when Sale pitches.
Entering a weekend series against the defending World Series champion Cubs, the Red Sox are tied with the Blue Jays for 12th in the American League with 78 runs. Only the Royals have scored less. The lack of firepower has brought more scrutiny to the Red Sox in their first month without David Ortiz.
"What's been different? I mean, David's not here," said Bogaerts. "He was definitely one of the huge parts of our team for the years that I've been here. We definitely miss him. We've got to do it without him. We're trying. We're trying to put up good at-bats, trying to get guys on base, but having that 34 in the lineup is something that opposing pitchers definitely were afraid of.
"We miss him, but we're going to get runs, you know? We're going to keep scoring. We're not going to get shut out or have one run every game. Offense just probably needs one game, boom, 12 runs, 15 runs. Like the Washington Nationals. They've been scoring double-digit runs these past few games, and hopefully we can do the same like that. We'll break loose."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.