When it is time to put in an ace performance, the Boston Red Sox have found out the last two seasons that Chris Sale is that guy.
There was no playing around at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night. It was “Sale Day” and Chris Sale was on his game leading the Boston Red Sox to a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays to kick off the three-game series between the American League East rivals.
Combining a nasty fastball and an equally effective slider, Sale mowed down Rays batters giving up just one earned run on 4 hits over 7 2/3 innings to improve his record to 5-1 on the season.
In allowing just the one earned run, Sale dropped his ERA to 2.17. His nine strikeouts once again supported how dominant the 29-year-old ace is when he has command of the mound.
He is even more lethal when staked to an early lead and given run support. On Tuesday night, Mookie Betts blasted a three-run homer to give Chris Sale an early 3-0 lead. From there, Sale was in cruise control despite offering up a mistake to Rays prospect Willy Adames, who launched his first Major League homerun.
Other than that, the Red Sox 33rd victory of the season wasn’t in doubt as Sale fastball and sliders held the Rays at bay.
"“I felt loose, obviously having an extra day and was able to get some work in,” Sale said following the game, via MLB. “Extra day of work and also an extra day of rest. Mixing some things up, Sandy [Leon] was nails back there again today, mixing them, in and out, up and down. I felt good the whole time through.”"
And it showed.