Red Sox

Drellich: Steady-as-a-rock Sale never gets the shakes


Drellich: Steady-as-a-rock Sale never gets the shakes

BOSTON -- The one thing he won't do is shake, shake, shake.

Chris Sale has taken a Little League saying, "just catch it and throw it," and turned it into one of the most dominating approaches anywhere.

“I think he’s getting better every time,” catcher Sandy Leon said after a 2-1 win over the Rays on Saturday. “It’s really fun to catch him.”

When you’re never wrong as a catcher, it has to be fun.

Sale almost never shakes off his catcher. Ever. And it's part of the reason he’s so captivating to watch.

Rick Porcello really couldn’t locate on Friday night and was trying to be too overpowering with his fastball. But it also appeared Leon and Porcello weren’t on the same page.

There was none of that a day later. It helps that Sale, unlike most any pitcher, cedes control of the pitch calling to the catcher on virtually every toss. 

The lefty’s rhythm is central to his dominance. He delivers the ball with about 20 seconds in between pitches on average, the fourth fastest pace this season, per FanGraphs.

That pace helps the defense. Opponents have a harder time getting comfortable.

But how Sale actually achieves that pace sets him even further apart from the pack.

The no-shake approach dates prior to his time with the White Sox, back to a conversation he had in his college days about the value of where he throws — not what.

“It’s never what pitch, it’s the location,” Sale said Saturday. “Not to get too in depth, but you can watch BP and guys get themselves out on a 60 mph an hour fastball right down the middle. So I figure it’s more important the location than it is the pitch that I’m throwing.”

Florida Golf Coast Universit coach Dave Tollett said that's his program's philosophy.

"Throw every pitch with intent," Tollett said Saturday night by phone. "And if you hit the right spot, we should be good. ... We still do the same thing and we’ve had success. 

"He didn’t shake. But I did give him the opportunity to shake, though. I think that’s just the trust that he has in his catcher."

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Sale has three wipeout, awesome pitches that he can rely on basically whenever he wants. (That figure of three doesn’t even count the variant sliders he can throw.)

On the first pitch, Sale throws a four-seam fastball 37 percent of the time lifetime, per That’s true on 0-2 as well. 

But the beauty of his approach is that if there’s a pattern his brain might subconsciously want him to fall into, he never has the chance to.

There’s another benefit here as well.

Thinking less about the sequence — a luxury few pitchers can afford, although maybe some would be wise to consider — frees up more brainpower for Sale to focus on delivering the pitch.

“It just clears my head," Sale said, "it’s one less thing to think about."

No one else on the Red Sox takes a no-shake approach, because probably no one else could pull it off. 

But if Sale's 12 strikeouts in seven innings against the Rays weren’t enough; if the three overwhelming starts to begin Sale’s Red Sox career hadn’t convinced you; here’s another reason to appreciate the best spectacle at Fenway Park since Pedro Martinez.

Dating to 1913, the only other Sox starter besides Sale to strike out at least seven, allow two runs or fewer and go at least seven innings in his first three games of the season is Martinez, if you were wondering.

Red Sox minor league team invites Trump, Biden to settle it in ring

File photos

Red Sox minor league team invites Trump, Biden to settle it in ring

In this corner, the challenger out of Scranton, Pa., Joltin' Joe Biden...In the other corner, straight out of Queens, the President of the United States, Dandy Donald J. Trump!

The venue: LeLacheur Park, Lowell, Mass., home of the Red Sox Class-A affiliate, the Lowell Spinners.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's The Slasher at LeLacheur!

After the former Vice-President told a crowd at the University of Miami earlier this week of the current President, "If we were in high school, I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him, President Trump fired back on Twitter Thursday morning. 

The Spinners, the Sox' short-season New York-Penn League affiliate, have offered to host a boxing match between the Republican President and Democratic former Vice President on Aug. 17 by the flagpole at LeLacheur. Former light-welterweight champ and Lowell native Micky Ward has agreed to referee.

No word yet if Trump, who'll be 72 by then, or Biden, 75, have accepted the invitation.

The Spinners' press release announcing the invitation says that if the two do accept, "the boxing match will take place regardless of the weather, no matter how stormy it may get."


As expected, it's Sale, Price and Porcello to start Sox season

As expected, it's Sale, Price and Porcello to start Sox season

New Red Sox manager Alex Cora has announced that, as expected, left-hander Chris Sale will be the Opening Day starter when the Red Sox begin their season nine days from now against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. David Price will pitch the second game and Rick Porcello the third. 

Cora told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. that Eduardo Rodriguez would be in the fourth starter's spot if he's ready as he continues to recover from off-season knee surgery and left-hander Brian Johnson is preparing to be the fifth starter for now.

In Price's second Grapefruit League start on Tuesday, he pitched five innings and allowed two runs on three hits, walked one and struck out four in the Red Sox' 12-6 victory over the Pirates. Third baseman Rafael Devers, hitting .349 this spring, hit his third home run of the spring. Andrew Benintendi (.405) had a double and two RBI and first baseman Sam Travis drove in three. 

Sale had a much rougher outing Monday, giving up four runs on five hits, with three walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Phillies.