Sunday was getaway day for the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park, and Chris Sale made sure they didn’t miss their flight out of town.
The Boston Red Sox ace continued his dominant run in June, allowing just four hits while racking up 13 strikeouts in seven shutout innings.
Boston had lost its last four games when Sale had recorded 10 or more strikeouts, but the bats came alive Sunday against Seattle to get Sale the win.
The ace’s record hasn’t reflected how dominant he has been of late. The left-hander was 1-3 with a 2.67 ERA in his last four starts entering Sunday, but he had recorded 33 strikeouts and allowed fewer than three earned runs in three of those four starts.
The dominance continued Sunday.
Sale threw 71 of his 93 pitches for strikes, tallying 26 swings-and-misses with 14 coming on four-seam fastballs and 10 on his two-seamer. The left-hander’s velocity has seen an uptick in his last four starts and Sale had the gas can out Sunday. He averaged 97.8 mph with his fastball and is averaging 96.6 over his last four starts. Compare that to an average of 94 during his first 13 starts and it’s clear that Boston’s strategy to keep Sale fresh is working.
Through 17 starts, Sale has thrown 11 2/3 fewer innings than last season and 138 fewer pitches. He still leads the American League with 153 strikeouts.
Sale’s final pitch was a 100.5-mph fastball to strikeout Mike Zunino to end the seventh inning. It was the fastest pitch as a starter in his career.
“He’s been amazing,” manager Alex Cora said after the game as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “Velocity-wise, tempo.”
As for Sale, his June brilliance is a tribute to rhythm.
“Same as usual, you know. Just try to find a good rhythm and tempo, find a groove and keep it going,” Sale said. “I think just getting back into a little bit better rhythm. I’ve been saying the same thing over the last handful of starts, just feeling good and getting into that tempo and getting back into a little bit better rhythm than I had to start the year. I put a lot of work into it so I’m glad where we’re at.”
Here are more notes from Red Sox vs. Mariners:
— Mitch Moreland launched his 11th home run of the season during the fifth inning. Moreland now is hitting .406 with eight extra-base hits in his third plate appearance of the game against a starting pitcher.
— Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3-for-3 with three singles. While he only is hitting .189 on the season, Bradley has hit 18 balls with an exit velocity of over 95 mph in his last 11 games. Only four of those balls have fallen for hits.
— The Red Sox now lead Major League Baseball with 52 wins. The Houston Astros can match them with a win Sunday.
— Jalen Beeks tossed seven shutout innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images