There was a plan in place for Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale to pitch just four innings in his return from the injured list Friday night against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park.

But when the top of the fifth inning started, the veteran left-hander was back on the mound, cruising past that plan. He quickly got the first two outs of the inning — making it 14 straight retired — before he hit the only bumps in his outing by allowing a solo homer to Kerry Carpenter and hitting Javier Báez.

That’s when Red Sox manager Alex Cora popped out of the dugout to take Sale out of the game. It was clear Sale wanted the chance to finish the frame, biting his glove as Cora proceeded toward the mound.

But in the end, Sale conceded to his skipper without any fight, believing in the message Cora had for him.

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“I definitely appreciated it,” Sale told reporters following Boston’s 5-2 win, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “I know the situation, I know one more hitter or whatever. I have too much respect for him to show him up or try to push the envelope. Basically (the message) in a nutshell, ‘Keep your eye on the big picture.'”

Cora was actually fine altering his plan for Sale given the efficiency he showed on the mound. Sale threw 42 of his 58 pitches for strikes and didn’t sweat much. He ended up tossing 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on one hit while striking out seven.

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“They weren’t stressful innings, so we’re good to go,” Cora told reporters, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “The last one he went out to get one out I think it was. We pushed him there and just didn’t work out. I think getting the repetitions and doing it the way he did, that’s a great sign.”

When Sale was on the shelf along with a number of other injuries to Boston’s starting rotation, the Red Sox went with two openers every five days for an extended period of time.

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And even though Sale isn’t fully built back up yet after two rehab outings, he figured he could step in and fill the role of a much more accomplished opener until he’s more stretched out.

“We had conversations about it and on my end with kind of how the game is going now, we have starters going one inning, two innings, things like that,” Sale said. “And I’m like, ‘If we’re going to do that, I can do that.’ I’m not too proud, or ego too big not to go out there and do that and build up here.”

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images