OAKLAND — For a guy with such a funky delivery, Chris Sale brings his words directly and calmly. He showed an attitude Friday night publicly, a spokesman for a Red Sox team that doesn’t always seem to have an identifiable one.
The idea that a 21-20 Red Sox team should be in a panic is a stretch after a 3-2 loss to the A's in 10 innings. But playing .500 baseball more than 40 games into the year is, at the least, a seesaw — and therefore a drag.
Few games come easy, even the ones when a possible Cy Young winner are pitching. Sale went eight innings and struck out at least 10 hitters for an eighth consecutive start, tying his own record from 2015.
Pedro Martinez had eight inside one season as well, and if you count his following starts the next year (1999-2000), the record is 10.
“I still think we have [the mindset we did coming off two wins in St. Louis],” Sale said after the Sox dropped their second straight. “That's the fun thing about this team. You look around this clubhouse, we have some fun guys that have been around awhile and just know, they know, this isn't a panic situation for anybody in here.
“This is part of what goes on in a baseball season, really. Believe it or not, I like where we're at. I think physically and mentally the guys in here can get through this and prevail.”
That’s the reasonable, grounded take. The Red Sox have a lot of good things going for them, but they haven’t amounted to any sort of notable win streak.
Knowing how much the bullpen has been used lately, Sale was disappointed he didn’t go more than eight innings. That kind of expectation is more or less absurd, but better that than shoot for seven innings.
“If anything I put a little bit more pressure on myself,” Sale said. “I told myself going in there tonight I wanted to finish it, even before the game started, I knew the circumstances, we've been relying on our relievers quite a bit, they've been doing a hell of a job for us. I really wanted to pick them up tonight, I really did, and I wasn't able to do that.’”
The Sox gave Sale a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. Not much of a lead, but something of a lead. He and all the pitchers deserve more with more frequency.
“That's what pisses me off even more,” Sale said. “We were grinding for those wins, we've been grinding all year. ... One bad inning's all right but to go out there for back-to-back innings, and lose a lead that we fought so hard to get, that's tough. Not only that, but when you have the mindset of wanting to go out there and finish a game, and you don't, I can't stress enough how well the guys in our bullpen have been throwing. Heck, they've been out there a lot."