Chris Sale may not have given the Boston Red Sox nine innings, but the lefty gave the team nine strikeouts Wednesday night.
Sale also had help from J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, who each homered in the 6-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park to avoid the sweep — something that hasn’t happened to Boston this season.
Wednesday’s victory was a full-team effort as the bullpen picked up the game in the sixth after Sale threw at least 20 pitches in three of his five innings. The ace had high praise for his team after the game, saying they had his back tonight.
“My guys picked me up tonight (and) allowed me to kind of have a misstep,” Sale said after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “Four walks is not my game, it’s not who I am. But when you have a night like tonight, I was able to lean on my guys.”
Sale said although it wasn’t his best outing, he felt strong on the mound and felt his fastball was the best it’s been all year, but struggled with his other pitches.
“(My) off-speed stuff wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, especially my breaking ball,” Sale said. “Command-wise (I) was a little bit off. I’d like to better than tonight, that’s for sure.”
Sox skipper Alex Cora seemed to agree with his pitcher, saying Sale’s outing was “fastball heavy” while his mix of pitches “wasn’t great.”
Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Red Sox-Athletics game:
— With the victory, Boston sits just a half game back of the New York Yankees for the top spot in the American League East.
The 29 wins for the Sox, however, leads the Majors.
— Mookie Betts looked as if he tweaked his leg during Matt Joyce’s home run. He stayed in the game and Cora offered a simple update on his right fielder after the game, saying, “he’s OK.”
— With nine K’s Wednesday night, Sale now has 87 strikeouts on the season.
Opponents are hitting just .081 against the ace with runners in scoring position.
“The ball was coming out of his hand the way it should be,” Cora said after the game.
— Rafael Devers became the 15th player in Red Sox history to appear in 100 games before turning 22.
He joins some pretty elite company, including Dwight Evans, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams Babe Ruth and current teammate Bogaerts.
— Craig Kimbrel has allowed four home runs through 17 1/3 innings.
— The Red Sox are 17-3 on the season when they score the first run.