FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There is a reason the Red Sox gave up four of their top prospects to acquire Chris Sale in the offseason. And the left-hander showed a glimpse of that Saturday against the Rays.Sale tossed four scoreless innings, allowing one hit with one walk and five strikeouts
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There is a reason the Red Sox gave up four of their top prospects to acquire Chris Sale in the offseason. And the left-hander showed a glimpse of that Saturday against the Rays.
Sale tossed four scoreless innings, allowing one hit with one walk and five strikeouts in the Red Sox's 2-1 victory at JetBlue Park. He threw 56 pitches, 42 for strikes.
Working with catcher Sandy Leon, Sale threw first-pitch strikes to all but one of the 14 batters he faced. The aberration was Kevin Kiermaier in the third inning, but Sale came back to strike out the Rays center fielder to end the inning.
"I felt good," Sale said. "I finally got through the number of innings we wanted to. ... We got some good work today.
"I felt like I had a pretty good combination of everything. Sandy really led me through that game. I was kind of going with what he had for me. I was able to command all my pitches for strikes, especially my fastball. I felt really good with my fastball today, in and out, up and down. Everything else just kind of played off of that."
Manager John Farrell was pleased with what he saw from Sale.
"There was a lot to like for all of us who watched it," Farrell said. "You watch a guy go about his work, the power to the stuff, the use of it, you love the way he pitches in aggressively, both for strikes and on purpose to expand the strike zone in. He was very good today, very strong. It's fun to watch him pitch."
Farrell is still getting to know Sale and learning what makes him tick in Spring Training.
"We don't have a whole lot of history," Farrell said. "I don't know what Spring Training has been typically for him. But it's a very simplified delivery. He repeats it, establishes a very consistent release point. That's why you see the number of strikes he throws. I thought he threw an outstanding changeup on a number of occasions today. So when you look at the three-pitch mix and the use of it, just a fun day to watch."
The lone hit Sale allowed was to Evan Longoria, with two outs in his three-strikeout first inning.
"This is professional baseball, top to bottom, they're quality hitters," Sale said. "But you start getting up into guys like [Longoria], we all know who he is and what he can do. And we're going to see him quite a bit this year. But, yeah, you like to get good results regardless of who's in the box or who you're facing. But it's nice to see the big guys come up there and get out."
This was Sale's second Grapefruit League outing. He was much more pleased with this performance than his first -- when he went two innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits with two strikeouts against the Astros in West Palm Beach on Monday.
"Yes, not just the results, my focus," Sale said. "I felt like I was throwing a lot more strikes today. I had a stupid walk on a 0-2, 3-2, and then put him on [to Timothy Beckham with two outs in the third]. That'll get me going a little bit. But other than that I was able to just keep pounding the zone and throwing strikes."
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com.