Taking the mound in Detroit Wednesday afternoon, Chris Sale desperately needed a good start. The Red Sox southpaw was bombarded in his season debut, allowing seven earned runs across three frames with erratic velocity.
After walking the first two Tigers he faced on eight straight balls, it seemed like another disastrous outing was imminent.
Then, as if a switch was flipped, Sale locked in and struck out the side. For a moment, his infamous slider returned to prime form. Two punchouts came from that pitch, one of which left Tiger Riley Greene visually perplexed as it painted the bottom corner of the zone.
Sale appeared to be shaking off the rust, but inconsistency plagued him throughout the next few innings.
He started the second with a walk before hanging a 93 mph sinker over the middle of the plate and allowing a two-run bomb by Jake Rogers.
In the third, Sale continued to leave pitches over the middle, allowing three consecutive bloop singles to give Detroit a 3-1 advantage. Most Sox fans probably expected the onslaught to continue, but that’s not what happened.
Sale got out of the aforementioned jam in the third, pitched a scoreless frame in the fourth, and struck out the side in the fifth.
It appeared he was gaining confidence in his command, getting a hold of the sinker, which generated four whiffs. For the first time in recent memory, Sale threw consistent strikes and got ahead of batters in the count.
The biggest takeaway? Sale wasn’t getting hit hard. The last time Sale allowed two-or-less hard-hit balls in a traditional outing was August 14th, 2021, in a game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Thanks to the bats of Adam Duvall and Rafael Devers, the Sox were able to jump ahead and never looked back, winning 6-3 and spoiling the Tigers’ home opener. That meant after 561 long days, Chris Sale finally got his name in the win column once again.
The 34-year-old hopes to continue his momentum next Wednesday at Tropicana Field when he faces the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays.