In Chris Sale’s first two months with the Red Sox last season, he was sensational. Through his first 10 games of the 2017 season, he owned a 2.34 ERA and had a 5-2 record. He was routinely pitching into the eighth inning.
Then he ran into his old team in Chicago.
On May 30, 2017, Sale lasted just five innings against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field - allowing five earned runs off of 10 hits. By Sale standards, it was a putrid outing even though he actually earned the win in the game – a 13-7 Red Sox victory.
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“We were both off,” Sale said after that game of himself and former teammate Jose Quintana. “I think people were expecting something a little different. But they came to a 7 o’clock batting practice.”
Unlike his current teammate David Price, Sale has typically owned it when he’s stunk up the joint. When he was pounded in Game 1 of the ALDS last season against Houston Sale was remorseful, saying, “I never really gave my team a chance to win.”
Sale has been overwhelmingly outstanding during his eight months pitching in Boston, but there are whispers as to whether or not he can handle the pressure of a big game. He floundered against his old team in his only meeting against them last year, and was rocked in the playoffs in the fall. He again faced Houston last Friday night and gave up four earned runs in six innings in a 7-3 Red Sox loss.
The White Sox (19-39) have the second worst record in baseball heading into Friday night’s game against Sale and the Red Sox at Fenway. It’s against his old ’mates, yes. But it’s not exactly Game 7 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium, either. If Sale struggles Friday night against the hapless Pale Hose then we should have real concerned about Sale and pressure moments.