Friday, August 12, 2022

Red Sox’s Chris Sale works five scoreless innings against Rays in 2022 debut

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale made his 2022 debut in his team’s eventual 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night. 

Considering the long layoff, the 33-year-old Sale fared quite well: 

Of his 78 pitches, 53 went for strikes, and he registered six ground-outs against two fly-outs. As well, Sale’s fastball averaged 95.1 mph on Tuesday, versus an average velo figure of 93.6 mph. His biggest fastball of the night clocked in at 96.9 mph. On the downside, Sale was able to induce just four swings and misses on the night. Those 78 pitches broke down as 32 fastballs, 28 sliders, 15 changeups, and three sinkers.

The start was Sale’s first at the major-league level since Game 5 of last year’s American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros. A right rib stress fracture kept him on the shelf for the first three-plus months of this season. 

Overall, Sale looked strong across four minor-league rehab starts leading up to his return, as he compiled a 2.38 ERA and a 3.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 11 innings. In his final rehab start, though, his command wasn’t as sharp, which led to a destructive tantrum in the tunnel

The Sox badly need Sale back in the rotation and at something close to vintage form. At present, they have basically a full rotation on the injured list: Nathan Eovaldi (lower back), Rich Hill (knee), James Paxton (Tommy John surgery in April of 2021), Connor Seabold (forearm), Michael Wacha (shoulder), and Garrett Whitlock (hip). In related matters, Sale became the 12th Red Sox pitcher to start a game this season. Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Red Sox ranked 17th in MLB with a rotation ERA of 4.02. 

The Boston loss means that the Rays have now edged in front of them for second place in the AL East. Both teams are presently in wild-card position in the AL. 

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