Chris Sale may not have given the Boston Red Sox nine innings, but the lefty did give the team nine strikeouts Wednesday night.
Sale didn’t have his best stuff on the mound Wednesday, as he struggled with his command and relieved to much on his fastball. But he had help from J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, who each homered in the 6-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park.
Wednesday’s victory was a full-team effort as the bullpen picked up the game in the sixth inning after Sale threw at least 20 pitches in three of his five innings of work. He exited having thrown 102 pitches while giving up two runs in those five frames.
The ace had high praise for his team after the game, saying they had his back tonight.
“My guys picked me up tonight (and) allowed me to kind of have a misstep,” Sale said after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “Four walks is not my game, it’s not who I am. But when you have a night like tonight, I was able to lean on my guys.”
Sale said although it wasn’t his best outing, he felt strong on the mound and thought his fastball was the best it’s been all year, but his secondary pitches were lacking.
“(My) off-speed stuff wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, especially my breaking ball,” Sale said. “Command-wise (I) was a little bit off. I’d like to better than tonight, that’s for sure.”
Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Red Sox-Athletics game:
— With the victory, Boston sits just a half game back of the New York Yankees for the top spot in the American League East.
The 29 wins for the Sox, however, leads Major League Baseball.
— Mookie Betts looked as if he tweaked his leg during Matt Joyce’s home run in the seventh, but he stayed in the game and manager Alex Cora said the star outfielder is OK.
— With nine K’s Wednesday night, Sale now has 87 strikeouts on the season.
— Rafael Devers became the 15th player in Red Sox history to appear in 100 games before turning 22.
He joins some pretty elite company, including Dwight Evans, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams Babe Ruth and current teammate Bogaerts.
— Craig Kimbrel has allowed four home runs through 17 1/3 innings.
— The Red Sox are 17-3 on the season when they score the first run.