Chris Sale’s performance last week against the Oakland Athletics raised some eyebrows, and rightfully so.
The Boston Red Sox ace pitched well — six innings, one earned run in a 1-0 Red Sox loss — but struck out just one batter while his fastball sat somewhere between 88 mph and 92 mph for much of the game. Red Sox coaches insisted the velocity drop was part of a larger plan, but fans and media alike were quick to point to Sale’s left shoulder, which limited the star lefty throughout the second half of last season and during the playoffs, as the primary culprit.
(One opposing scout is among those convinced Sale still is being hampered by the shoulder.)
But ahead of Tuesday’s home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, Red Sox manager Alex Cora revealed Sale was dealing with a stomach bug in the days leading up to his start in Oakland. While Cora seems intent to avoid making excuses, it’s hard to read his comments as anything other than attributing Sale’s velocity drop to a stomach illness.
Here’s a roundup of Cora’s comments from Red Sox beat reporters:
Sale will carry his 0-2 record and 8.00 ERA into Tuesday’s start against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
And, fair or not, you can bet his velocity will be the biggest story coming out of the game, regardless of which team wins.