Sale: 'This is flat-out embarrassing'

Despite uptick in velocity, ace struggles in 4th straight loss

April 17th, 2019

NEW YORK -- Don't tell Red Sox ace about his significant uptick in velocity in Tuesday night's 8-0 loss to the Yankees. Don't tell him that his slider looked better than in recent starts. Sale doesn't like silver linings and doesn't want to hear about them.

Sale likes to win, pure and simple. And the fact that he's 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA is making him feel downright ornery. Sale is also accountable.

"This is flat-out embarrassing," said Sale. "For my family, for our team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets. Like I said, I have to pitch better."

And his Red Sox have to play better -- a lot better. This latest defeat dropped the defending World Series champions to 6-12, their worst start since manager Kevin Kennedy's squad went 3-15 in 1996.

Over the past two games, Monday at Fenway and Tuesday at New York, the Red Sox have been outscored by 15 runs (16-1). , Boston's best all-around player, is struggling as much as Sale. He went 0-for-3 against the Yanks and is hitting .212.

"I know who we are, the guys we've got in this group, we're resilient, we're going to keep fighting," Sale said. "Not going to hang our heads obviously. We know where we're at, we know we need to pick it up. Keep fighting, keep working, keep grinding and hopefully it will turn."

The thing about Sale is that he's not looking at his teammates to turn the tide. Though he only pitches once every five games or so, he expects himself to be the tone-setter.

And Sale knows that the tone he has set this season -- starting with the walloping he took on Opening Day at Seattle -- has been the wrong one.

"It sucks," Sale said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I just flat-out stink right now. I don't know what it is."

Sale breezed through the first two innings against the Yankees and had a 1-2 count on with two outs in the third, only to give up an RBI single as part of a two-run inning. The Yanks scored two more against Sale in the fourth.

After that inning, the lefty went back to the bench, took a sip from his drink and then angrily shoved something from the bench onto the ground.

Sale then retreated to the tunnel, perhaps so he could display his anger more privately.

In many ways, Sale's latest performance (five innings, seven hits, four runs, one walk, six strikeouts) was the most perplexing, because he did have nice uptick in velocity and generated better results with his slider, but he still couldn't deliver a shutdown performance.

Sale, who has an 8.50 ERA in four starts, threw 36 fastballs and averaged 95.4 mph while topping out at 97.5 mph. His previous best for average fastball velocity this season was 92.1 on Opening Day.

Again, that was of no comfort to Sale.

"In terms of throwing, it was better. Still need to pitch better," said Sale. "Need to get results. Doesn't matter how hard you throw or how fancy, you need to throw up zeroes."

Looking at some other numbers, it is clear something is still amiss with Sale. His fastball generated just one swing and miss. In fact, of the 124 fastballs Sale has thrown this season, he's induced just two swings and misses.

Overall, Sale generated 12 swings and misses in his 93-pitch performance.

"I'm not going to be surprised if his next outing he's right where we need him to be," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "Stuff-wise, compare it to the first three with the velocity was there, the slider was a lot better, he's very close to the 'real Chris Sale.'"

Does Sale share his manager's optimism that he will throw a gem next time out?

"We better [expletive] hope so," said Sale.