In one game it is Rafael Devers smacking homers and James Paxton commanding the mound. In another game, it is Chris Sale looking like classic Chris Sale as the Boston Red Sox have taken the first two games against the San Diego Padres to start the West Coach trip.
Solid starting pitching and timely hitting is always the formula for success. The Red Sox have gotten that in the first two games against a more superior team on paper.
On Saturday night, Sale continued his path back to dominance on the mound with a solid performance against the Padres which featured a jam in the sixth inning in which Sale battled the heart of the Padres order by getting out Xander Bogaerts and striking out Juan Soto and Nelson Cruz to maintain the Red Sox lead at the time.
Sale came back out to pitch a perfect seventh inning which is a sign of both confidence in the lanky lefty and a sign that he is becoming that reliable ace again.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale is looking like Chris Sale again
With the 4-2 victory, Sale has not only etched another solid starting performance in his 2023 resume, but he also helped the team win the first two of the three-game series. With most of the offense coming off a three-run homer off the bat of Emmanuel Valdez, Sale got all the help he needed on a night he had everything going.
"“Good fastball, good slider, good command,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following the game. “[He] got in trouble there, we let him get out of it and then into the seventh, it was kind of like, get the leadoff guy, and he did. And then get the next guy, and he did, and he finished the inning. But overall, everything he’s been working on is paying off and he’s in a great spot.”"
The key there is Sale battling back and stepping up to the competition at the plate like the good ole days. Physically and mentally, he appears to be getting his form back which means everything for a team that is currently 26-20 on the season.
While Sale was a big “What if” for the Red Sox heading into the season, the team is benefitting from the results of him being back to good on the mound. In his last four starts, Sale is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA which should’ve been 4-0 if not for a blown save by Kenley Jansen.
In all, the Red Sox ace is leading a rotation that now seems solid as Paxton and Brayan Bello are doing their thing as well. But the key takeaway of another solid performance is the Red Sox pitcher feeling good.
"“I feel like I’m trending in a good direction,” Sale said. “I’ve been around here too long to feel like I’m on top of a mountain at all and I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I know where I’m at. I know what I’m doing.”"
Sale knew what he was doing in that sixth inning which will only fuel his competitive nature on the mound as well as the Red Sox confidence in games he’s on the mound.