BOSTON -- Although there will be many questions for any team heading to the postseason, the most important ones for the Red Sox and their fans continue to involve Chris Sale, who had a mixed bag of results in Boston's 10-3 loss to Baltimore on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.Making
BOSTON -- Although there will be many questions for any team heading to the postseason, the most important ones for the Red Sox and their fans continue to involve Chris Sale, who had a mixed bag of results in Boston's 10-3 loss to Baltimore on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
Making his final start of the regular season in the second game of a day-night doubleheader, the Red Sox southpaw was working with a fastball below his normal velocity, flashing pitch speeds in the low 90s as opposed to mid- or upper 90s.
"It's not the time to panic," said Sale. "One hundred seven wins into the season and October ahead of us, so it is what it is. You take it in stride, try to build off of it and just try to get better."
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Manager Alex Cora said that the plan for Sale was to work six innings or 100 pitches as he continues to round into form following a bout of inflammation in his left shoulder that sidelined him for much of August.
"Not great, we saw that," Cora said of Sale's outing. "Velocity wasn't great. The slider, the two [players] that he hit, but then after that he had a few swings and misses. The changeup was OK."
Sale would last just 4 2/3 innings on the night, allowing three runs while scattering four hits and allowing a walk on 92 pitches, 58 for strikes, as the Red Sox dropped a start of his for the first time since June 19.
The left-hander did strike out eight in his longest outing since returning on Sept. 11, the most he has fanned since an Aug. 12 start in which he struck out 12 Baltimore batters over five innings.
After allowing two runs in the first, Sale never pitched with a lead and departed with his team trailing, 3-2, in the fifth inning.
Following his departure, he went looking for answers of his own.
"As soon as I took him out, he came up here in the video room," said Cora. "It seems like there is something mechanically going on. He's not firing his hips like he normally does. We don't have too much time, so he'll work on it this weekend."
"I saw some things last week and even tonight, just not really driving off my lower half to really create that torque I have in the past," said Sale. "We've got extended time now to kind of figure out what we need to do, and we'll go from there."
Blake Swihart's RBI single in the fifth pulled Boston even and cleared Sale from a decision, but Baltimore got to reliever Matt Barnes in the seventh, posting three runs on the strength of three straight singles, building their lead to 6-3.
The Orioles would tack on four runs in the top of the ninth after closer Craig Kimbrel allowed four runs without giving up a hit. Baltimore drew three walks and a hit-by-pitch off Kimbrel, then tagged Robby Scott for two hits to increase their lead.
"Actually, the only good thing he did today was throw a good changeup the first pitch of the night," said Cora of Kimbrel. "But after that, command wasn't great, and he was fighting himself. Just one of those [nights]."
The Boston bats were also dormant down the stretch, as the last 14 batters were retired, nine by Baltimore reliever Paul Fry.
After splitting the doubleheader, the Red Sox finished with a 16-3 mark against the Orioles on the season, the most wins by any team against another this season. It was also the second time since the Divisional Era (since 1969) that Boston won 16 games against the Orioles, having gone 16-2 vs. their American League East rival in 2009.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the top of the eighth inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. pulled off yet another highlight-reel catch on Caleb Joseph's short fly ball to center field. Bradley got a great read off the bat and, according to Statcast™, sprinted 63 feet in 3.7 seconds, laying out at the last possible moment to come up with a five-star catch. It was his third such rated grab on the season on a ball hit with a 13 percent catch probability.
HE SAID IT
"Good. The same way I felt yesterday and the last few days. I know where we're at physically. We didn't throw the ball well today in the second game, but we're in a good spot." -- Cora, on how he feels about his pitching staff
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the top of the fourth inning, Baltimore challenged an out call at second base on a 5-4 fielder's choice forceout of Adam Jones. After a review of one minute and 44 seconds, it was determined that second baseman Brandon Phillips was not on the base to make the force, and the call was overturned.
The Red Sox will have an off-day on Thursday before welcoming the Yankees to Fenway Park on Friday for the final three games of the regular season and a possible American League Division Series preview. Right-hander Rick Porcello will start the 7:10 p.m. ET series opener. In three starts against the New York this season, he is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.