The Chris Sale era has begun in Boston, and it looks filthy.
The expectations couldn’t have been higher for the star left-hander who the Boston Red Sox acquired from the Chicago White Sox via trade on Dec. 6.
After months of waiting, Sale finally made his Red Sox debut Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Fenway Park, and it was everything Red Sox Nation hoped it would be.
Sale retired the side in order in the first inning, which included this strikeout of Starling Marte.
The ace left-hander would surrender a one-out hit to David Freese in the second inning, but he would strike out the next two batters to end the inning.
Sale was dominant all night. He had three pitches working, especially his wipeout slider.
Sale showed the ability to command both sides of the plate, and kept Pittsburgh’s hitters off-balance all night by mixing his pitches effectively.
The start was exactly what the Red Sox hope to get out of Sale for the duration of his Boston career. The All-Star lefty tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits while striking out seven and walking one. He didn’t even allow a runner to reach second base. He threw 104 pitches, 69 for strikes and left to a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd.
Sale also induced 14 swing and misses, thanks to the lethal combination of his hard fastball, devastating changeup and nasty slider. Six of his seven strikeouts were of the swinging variety, with four coming via the slider, one on a 96 mph fastball and the other on a slick changeup.
Sale, unfortunately, didn’t record his first win in a Red Sox uniform as Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon also was brilliant in seven shutout innings. Boston eventually won 3-0 on a walkoff home run by Sandy Leon in the 12th inning.
The Red Sox paid a hefty price to acquire Sale, and through one start, he looks as good as advertised.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images