It’s rare that a starting pitcher gets saddled with the loss when he allows just one run, but that’s the ball Chris Sale was chained to Friday night.
The lefty tossed a gem, but was failed by his offense in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park. He struck out 10 batters over eight innings, allowing one run on six hits with one walk. Save for the seventh inning, he didn’t allow a runner past first base all night.
Result aside, Friday’s outing was an important one for Sale. His past two starts were far below his standards, as he was knocked around by the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros. In that stretch, he allowed 10 runs on 11 hits over 10 1/3 innings. But things clearly were different against the White Sox, with Sale even punching out Daniel Palka with the fastest strikeout pitch of any starter in Major League baseball this season (100.3 mph).
However, the Sox offense strung together just three hits and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. When that happens, there only is so much Sale can do.
“He controls what he can control, and he did an outstanding job doing that today,” Sox manager Alex Cora said after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “You saw the velocity, that was eye-opening, the changeup, the slider. He was great, he did an outstanding job for us.”
With Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez out of the lineup, it isn’t much of a surprise that Boston’s offense was quieter than usual. Be that as it may, Sale still turned in an important performance at Fenway on Friday.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-White Sox:
— Before the game, Cora gave an update on Betts, who was eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list Friday. His message was that Betts and the Sox are taking it slow and being cautious, and after the game, the skipper shed a bit more light on what the plan is Saturday for the right fielder.
“He did OK,” Cora said of Betts’ work Friday. “Tomorrow the plan is to go out and hit outside and hopefully everything goes well and then we’ll make a decision.”
— Although the Sox have been without Betts, what Andrew Benintendi has done in the leadoff spot in his place is not to be forgotten. The outfielder was responsible for one of Boston’s three hits Friday, smacking a double off the Green Monster to lead off the bottom of the first that narrowly missed being a home run.
Benintendi has reached base in each game that Betts has been out, and is hitting .372 with six doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 23 RBIs in his last 22 games.
— Tyler Thornburg has been continuing his rehab with Triple-A Pawtucket, and he pitched a scoreless sixth inning while allowing one hit Friday.
The righty has been solid while with the PawSox, posting a 2.84 ERA in eight appearances. He’s allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits with as many walks and nine strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.