USA Today Sports

Chris Sale pitches scoreless inning in return

Rob Bradford
September 11, 2018 - 7:50 pm

Baby steps.

That seems to be the Red Sox' approach when it comes to Chris Sale, who made his return to the mound for the first time since Aug. 12. The Red Sox starter, who was activated from the disabled list (shoulder inflammation) earlier Tuesday, went just an inning against the Blue Jays before being replaced by Brandon Workman.

Sale threw 26 pitches (14 strikes), giving up a hit while striking out two. The lefty's first four pitches were all fastballs registering between 96-97 mph. Blue Jays leadoff man Lourdes Gurriel Jr. notched the only hit against Sale, lofting a deep fly ball against the right-field wall resulting in a double.

The Red Sox' ace came back to strike out both Devon Travis and Justin Smoak, finishing each off with sliders. After hitting Kendrys Morales with a slider, Sale induced an inning-ending pop-up off the bat of Randal Grichuk to end his outing.

Sale would finish off his night by throwing more pitches in the controlled environment of the Red Sox' bullpen during the top of the second inning.

"I thought it was high leverage. He had to pitch from the get-go. He hasn’t pitched in a while," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora when asked why Sale didn't come out for the second inning. "It made no sense for me. I was the one who made the call, it made no sense to send him out there for 10 pitches, 12 pitches, whatever. We’re taking care of the guy. His mechanics weren’t there. The speed of the game, this the big leagues. He hasn’t pitched in a while. Gurriel hits a double and he has to pitch so I decided to take him out and pitched in the bullpen."

After the Red Sox' 7-2 win over the Blue Jays, both Cora and Sale thought the pitcher was a bit out of rhythm.

"I was just trying to throw strikes. It was my first time back out there in awhile. Sped up a little bit on me. Felt like I was kind of rushing a little bit," Sale said. "Kind of got out of some of the things I need to do to stay on top of things but ended up getting out of it, obviously relied on my bullpen a little bit more than I'd like to but we move on."

"I think he just felt out of sync all the way around," Cora said. "That’s why he’s out there. He’s getting ready. He’ll be ready to pitch on Sunday and hopefully he’s going to be better."