Did Alex Cora Expect To See This Version Of Chris Sale Already?

'It showed us that he has something in the tank'


Aug 26, 2021

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale is quickly picking up where he left off, and his season-best 5 1/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins during Thursday night’s win was just the latest step in the right direction.

And perhaps he’s getting back to his old ways faster than even manager Alex Cora expected.

“We’re getting there,” Cora responded when asked if he expected Sale to get to this point this quickly. “This is more, you can compare this to ’18 the way things are going. We talk about his spring training, right? The build up in the first month, it feels that way. The first one was good, the second one he grinded, the third one he was a lot better and showing that there’s something in the tank. So we’ll get him ready for the next one. Those five innings are huge for us. And he’s still going to get better.”

Sale was extremely efficient during his third start of the season and threw as hard as 98 mph with three straight four-seam fastballs in the fifth inning. He struck out eight batters, three of which came during an immaculate inning in the third as the left-hander needed just nine pitches to retire the side in order. He finished the game allowing two runs on two hits while allowing a two-run home run earlier in the fifth.

“He was good. It showed us that he has something in the tank, right?,” Cora said. “You hate to see the homer, but then after that you saw the numbers going up so that’s a good sign. He was in control. A lot of strikeouts. Very effective, right? The pitch count was low.

“But overall, outstanding,” Cora added. “That’s what he does. He competes at a high level. That’s 15 innings of competitive baseball, that’s what he wanted, and we know he’s got more.”

Sale has pitched 15 1/3 innings since he returned to Boston. He spent more than half the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Sale also provided plenty of positive news as he shared Thursday was the best he’s felt in a game this season.

“I still got a couple things I have to tidy up and really complete, but tonight as a whole was the best I felt coming into a start, coming out of a start, during the start. I felt strong throughout,” Sale said during a postgame video conference. “Like (Dave Bush) said after the game, we were sitting there chatting about what was going on and he’s like, ‘You know what? We’re sitting here talking about competing and on the field stuff. We’re not talking about your arm, we’re not talking about your body, we’re not talking about your health. We’re in a good spot. Let’s just keep it moving.'”

The Red Sox claimed the series win against the Twins with Thursday’s victory. They’ll return to action Friday as they travel to the Cleveland Indians for a three-game set. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET and you can watch it live on NESN.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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