Boston Red Sox

Drellich: Sale should have been given chance to finish what he started

Drellich: Sale should have been given chance to finish what he started

The issue isn’t which pitcher gave the Red Sox a better team to win Thursday, Craig Kimbrel or Chris Sale. The chances were overwhelmingly in the Red Sox’ favor either way.

It’s about ownership.

RED SOX 4, BLUE JAYS 1

Thursday belonged to Chris Sale, who was an exhibit of efficiency and dominance at Rogers Centre. He deserved a chance to finish off one of the best outings of his career.

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t give it to him.

Fortunately for Farrell -- and fortunately for Kimbrel, whose failure will be forgotten in this conversation -- the Sox still got a win over the Blue Jays, 4-1 in 10 innings, despite Kimbrel’s blown save.

Going to Kimbrel, an elite reliever who has looked otherworldly lately, is not a bad decision in itself. But on this day, Sale should have been afforded the chance to blow this game himself, rather than be told to watch while someone else screws it up for him.

"I'm going to want the ball in that situations 10 times out of nine," Sale told reporters in Toronto.

Sale said he told pitching coach Carl Willis he was available for the ninth.

Kimbrel served up a leadoff home run to Kendrys Morales in the ninth, a shot to straightaway center that tied the game at 1-1.

“After kind of a long inning (with a replay review in the top of the ninth)  . . . [I] felt like it was time to turn it over to a guy who was fresh and powerful,” Farrell told reporters in Toronto.

It’s hard to say that Sale at 102 pitches is actually a better pitcher than Kimbrel at 0. These are two of the absolute best at their jobs. If either pitcher gave up a run, the choice would be second guessed -- and you know it.

You can say the Blue Jays benefited from a new look with Kimbrel coming in. You can argue the opposite: just consider how well Kimbrel has pitched lately.

But then, when you consider the same with Sale; when you consider the 13 strikeouts he had amassed on just 102 pitches; when you consider his ERA is now 0.91 in four starts with the Sox; it comes down to a feeling that this was his game.

Sale’s pitch count wasn’t too high. And he was already brushing with some history, albeit obscure history.

Sale on Thursday became the first Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2001 to strike out at least 12 in consecutive starts. (Pedro did it in four straight games that May.)

Thursday was the 28th time in major-league history a starter struck out 13 hitters while finishing with 102 pitches or fewer, per Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index. Teams are 21-7 in those kind of outings.

And Sale became the first starter in major-league history to strike out at least 13, finish with 102 pitches or fewer and have at least 80 of those pitches be strikes.

Farrell’s job is to put the best pitchers in position to win games. 

Between Sale and Kimbrel, there was no obvious answer Thursday as to who would position the Sox better -- not with the way both have been throwing. Who's better, Sale at 102 pitches or Kimbrel at 0? You could argue for hours.

What it should have come down to for Farrell, then, was a realization Thursday belonged to Sale, until Sale gave it away himself.

Eduardo Nunez aggravates right knee injury

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Eduardo Nunez aggravates right knee injury

BOSTON — In the starting lineup for the first time in 16 days, Eduardo Nunez had just two at-bats Monday before he aggravated his right knee.

Nunez has been out with a hurt PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) injury, which affects the back of the knee. 

The designated hitter on Monday, Nunez doubled in his first at-bat. In the third inning, he fouled a pitch away and his leg appeared to buckle under him. 

Sox manager John Farrell and a trainer went out to speak with Nunez, who jogged briefly up the third-base line and swung the bat before he was permitted to finish the at-bat. Nunez lined out to third base and walked gingerly to the dugout, with a little limp.

That was it for Nunez, with Sam Travis batting for Nunez the next time up.

Farrell indicated before the game it was possible Nunez would still be bothered by the knee, but said "he’s not putting himself at further risk."

Drew Pomeranz leaves after just two innings with velocity down again

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Drew Pomeranz leaves after just two innings with velocity down again

BOSTON — With his velocity down again Monday, Red Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz was pulled after just two innings at Fenway Park, an alarming move with the playoffs beginning next week and Pomeranz expected to pitch Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

Facing the Blue Jays, the lefty on Monday allowed seven hits and five runs and struck out none. His fastball was around 89-91 mph Monday, after he averaged 92.74 mph on it in August, per BrooksBaseball.net.

Pomeranz's regular heat wasn't quite there in his previous outing in Baltimore, either, sitting at 89.29. But even in the two prior starts, he saw a drop-off. On Sept. 8, he sat at 90.11 mph, and on Sept. 14 was 91.19 mph.

"At this point in the year, it’s late in the year, I’m focused on making pitches," Pomeranz said when asked about his velocity after the Baltimore start. "Changing speeds has been working for me the last few times. I’ve got more in the tank when I need to. You see I had a couple guys on and I can start throwing harder if I want to. I’m focused on making pitches and throwing all four pitches for strikes. That’s what I’ve been doing pretty much these last three or four outings."

The Sox trailed 5-2 when Pomeranz left. 

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