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Game info: Patriots vs. Colts

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Game info: Patriots vs. Colts

GAME TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST

TV NETWORK: CBS

TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Patriots lead, 46-29

LAST MEETING: Patriots 31, Colts 24 on Dec. 4, 2011 at Gillette Stadium

While the Patriots have won 17 of the last 24 games between the clubs, dating back to the 1996 season, Indianapolis has won five of the last eight meetings.

Tom Bradys first NFL start was against the Colts on Sept. 30, 2001 at Foxboro Stadium. He finished 13-of-23 for 168 yards in a 44-13 Patriots win. Brady owns a 7-3 record in the regular season against Indianapolis and 2-1 record in the postseason.

The Patriots opened the second half of the 2012 regular season with a victory over Buffalo. Since the 2010 season, the Patriots are 17-0 in the second half. In both 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were 8-0 in the second half of the season. Their last loss was in the 2009 season-finale at Houston, a 34-27 loss, on Jan. 3, 2010.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
With one touchdown pass against the Colts, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 42 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and continue his third-longest streak all time, behind Drew Brees (52-current) and Johnny Unitas (47).

Brady has 50 career 300-yard games in the regular season and needs one more to tie Dan Fouts (51) for sixth place all time.

Brady has two rushing touchdowns in 2012 and needs one more to tie his single-season career high of three, set in 2011.

Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10 from 50 or more yards) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history. Gostkowski has two 50-yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50-yard field goals in a single season.

Rob Ninkovich has a team-leading four forced fumbles. If he has one more forced fumble he will tie Mike Vrabel (five in 2007) for the most forced fumbles for a Patriots player within the last 20 years.

Wes Welker (16) needs one more 10-plus catch game to break a second place tie with Marvin Harrison (15) and tie Jerry Rice (17) for the most 10-catch games in NFL history.

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

BALTIMORE — Baseball records are so precise. When to pursue them, when to value them even if minor risk is involved, is not nearly as clear cut.

The Red Sox, Chris Sale and John Farrell have stumbled upon that grey area, and it will continue to play out in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Sale reached a tremendous milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 14th different pitcher in major league history to reach 300 strikeouts in a single season. No one else has done it in the American League this century. Clayton Kershaw was the last to get there in the National League two years ago.

“It was really fun,” Sale said of having his family on hand. “My wife, both my boys are here, my mother-in-law. Being able to run out and get a big hug from him and my wife and everybody — it was special having them here for something like this. … I’ll spend a little time with them before we head to Cincinnati.”

Now, there’s another mark ahead of Sale: Pedro Martinez’s single-season club record of 313. And the pursuit of that record is going to highlight the discussion of what matters even more.

The tug-of-war between absolute pragmatism and personal achievement was on display Wednesday, when Farrell gave ground to the latter. 

The manager was prepared for the questions after a celebratory 9-0 win over the Orioles. His pitchers threw 26 straight scoreless innings to finish off a three-game sweep of the Orioles, and the Sox had the game well in hand the whole night.

With seven innings and 99 pitches thrown and 299 strikeouts in the books, Sale went back out for the eighth inning.

If you watched it, if you saw Sale drop a 2-2 front-door slider to a hapless Ryan Flaherty for the final strikeout Sale needed and his last pitch of the night, you surely enjoyed it. Records may not be championships, but they have their own appeal in sports that’s undeniable. 

But Sale could have recorded strikeout No. 300 next time out. Surely, he would have. He needed all 111 pitches to do so Wednesday.

In this case, the difference between 299 and 300 wound up being just 12 pitches. 

It’s doubtful those 12 pitches will ruin Sale’s postseason chances, particularly considering he was throwing hard all game, touching 99 mph. 

Nonetheless, the Sox hope to play for another month, and they've been working to get Sale extra rest. So, why risk fatigue, or worse, injury?

“The two overriding factors for me,” Farrell explained, “were the pitch counts and the innings in which he was in control of throughout. Gets an extra day [for five days of rest] this next time through the rotation. All those things were brought into play in the thinking of bringing him back out.

“We know what the final out of tonight represented, him getting the 300 strikeouts. Was aware of that, and you know what, felt like he was in complete command of this game and the ability to go out and give that opportunity, he recorded it.”

If Sale makes his final two starts of the year, he’ll break Martinez's record of 313. At least, Sale should. But he might not make his projected final start, in Game No. 162, so that he’s set up for Game 1 in the Division Series.

(So, if he could do reach 314 Ks in his next start, he’d make this discussion disappear — but 14 Ks in one outing is not easy.)

When should exceptions be made to let someone get to a record? Where do you draw the line? 

Would it be reasonable to get Sale an inning or two against the Astros in Game 162 if he was a few strikeouts away, even though he may face the Astros in the Division Series?

Letting the Astros get extra looks against Sale is a different matter than Sale throwing 12 extra pitches. But neither is really a guarantee of doom. They're small risks, of varying size.

Consider that if Sale is on, he should rough up the Astros no matter what.

What's 12 pitches Wednesday for a guy who leads the majors in average pitches thrown per game? Not enough to keep Farrell from letting Sale have a go at one milestone.

Will the Sox work to put Sale in position for the next?

Records don’t usually fall into such a grey area. Outside of the steroid era, anyway.