Red Sox

Sale becomes first A.L. pitcher this century to record 300 strikeouts

Sale becomes first A.L. pitcher this century to record 300 strikeouts

BALTIMORE — One of the greatest seasons for a pitcher in Red Sox history saw a milestone toppled Wednesday night. 

In a dominant start vs. the Orioles at Camden Yards, Chris Sale became the first American League pitcher this century to strike out 300 batters in a season. He also put himself in striking distance of the Red Sox single-season record for Ks, 313.

Sale is the 14th different pitcher since 1920 to reach the 300 mark. The only other pitcher to do so in a Red Sox uniform was Pedro Martinez, who set the club record of 313 in 1999.

Sale was at 12 strikeouts and 99 pitches through seven innings Wednesday night with the Sox ahead 6-0. The offense added two more runs in the top of the inning, prompting Sox manager John Farrell to warm up righty Austin Maddox.

But Sale nonetheless took the mound. The first two batters of the inning grounded out. On a 2-2 pitch to the left-handed hitting Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a front-door slider that caught Flaherty looking. It was his 111th pitch of the night.

Sale has two more scheduled starts, although he may only make one more. 

His final appearance of the regular season projects to be Game No. 162 against the Astros. If the Sox have the American League East wrapped up, Sale could well be held out of that game. 

The Sox and Astros meet for four games to end the regular season at Fenway Park, and may be first-round opponents if the Indians maintain the best record in the AL and therefore home field advantage.

The last time a pitcher in either league struck out 300 was 2015, when Clayton Kershaw did so for the Dodgers.

Sale was in line for his 17th win Wednesday, tying his career high.

The Baseball Show Podcast: Red Sox head into the break flying high

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The Baseball Show Podcast: Red Sox head into the break flying high

Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni break down the week in Red Sox news and results on The Baseball Show:

1:06 - Evan and Lou discuss the unofficial first half of the season and what has gone right for the Red Sox to put them in first place with a 4.5 game lead in the division as they go into the All-Star break.

3:59 - Lou, Evan and Dan Shaughnessy play a round of over-under with the following topics: Mookie Betts' possible contract extension, Betts' MVP chances and the number of Red Sox selected to the All-Star Game.

8:52 - Evan and Lou look ahead to the second half of the season and discuss which players will improve the most.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Red Sox beat Blue Jays, hit All-Star break with best record since 1949

Red Sox beat Blue Jays, hit All-Star break with best record since 1949

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox rolled through the pre-All-Star game portion of their schedule piling up wins. Now, they'll have a few days to sit back, relax and enjoy their historic start.

Xander Bogaerts homered in his first at-bat a day after hitting a walk-off grand slam and drove in two runs, leading the Red Sox past the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Sunday to enter the break with their best record since 1949.

"I think we did great. I think the record shows," Red Sox All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts said. "We were pretty much in every game, had a chance to win every game and we won a lot of them."

Brock Holt also drove in two runs for the AL East-leading Red Sox (68-30), who own the major league's best record and have won 12 of their last 13 games. They lead the Yankees by 4 1/2 games going into the break.

"Anytime you're winning you're having fun," Boston outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "Just keep winning and you'll keep going good."

Betts went 0 for 3, lowering his major league-leading batting average to .359, and fellow-All Star J.D. Martinez enters the break with 29 homers and an MLB best 80 RBI.

Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer for the Blue Jays (43-52). Toronto's dropped seven of 10 and fell to 3-10 against the Red Sox this season.

"Just to reset. I think that's the mindset of anyone," losing pitcher Marcus Stroman said before storming off later in the interview after a question from a reporter. "Even if you're playing well, it's definitely good to get the break to kind of get away from the game, clear your head and hopefully come back and put some wins together."

Stroman became upset when someone asked him about pitching at a field in Vancouver, Canada.

Brandon Workman (2-0), the first of five relievers, struck out the only batter he faced in the fifth after starter Brian Johnson was pulled with the score tied.

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his 30th save, his eighth straight season with 30 or more. Johnson gave up two runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Bradley's RBI double against Stroman (2-7) pushed Boston ahead 3-2 in the fifth, and he scored on Bogaerts run-scoring grounder off Stroman's foot.

Holt's second RBI single made it 5-2 an inning later.

Bogaerts, whose 10th-inning slam on Saturday gave Boston a 6-2 win, homered on the third pitch he saw, sending it completely out of Fenway Park over the Green Monster for his 16th of the season in the first. Holt's RBI single made it 2-0 in the inning.

Hernandez's shot went over the Monster in the third.

Stroman gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits in five innings.

SPECIAL TIMES

Going to the All-Star game will have special meaning for Kimbrel, who is planning to take his 8-month-old daughter and his wife, Ashley, on the trip to Washington D.C.

"Yeah, it is," said Kimbrel of his seventh All-Star selection in the clubhouse Sunday morning. "It's been a busy day trying to get everything ready."

Kimbrel's daughter, Lydia Joy, had two open-heart surgeries shortly after her birth, the second causing him to miss most of spring training.

First-timer Mitch Moreland has a different reason with his 5-year-old son, Crue.

"I think the biggest thing over the years is watching the Home Run Derby, the guys having their kids with them out on the field," he said. "I'm looking forward to doing that with my son, my oldest, and I think he's looking forward to that, too."

Lefty ace Chris Sale rounds out Boston's five All Stars.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Blue Jays: Placed CF Kevin Pillar on the 10-day disabled list with a sternoclavicular joint injury suffered making a diving catch and rolling over Saturday. ... INF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was also placed on the 7-day concussion DL after sliding headfirst into first and colliding with Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez's leg.

Red Sox: DH Steve Pearce did some early-morning running on the field and was back in the lineup after missing two games with a bruised left shin from getting hit by a pitch on Thursday. . ..Rodriguez went on the 10-day DL with a sprained right ankle, opening a spot for Johnson, who was activated after a stint on the DL with left hip inflammation.

"There's some serious damage in the ankle, no surgery required," manager Alex Cora said about Rodriguez. "He's going to have a boot for two weeks and we'll evaluate to see where he's at, no surgery, that sounds promising."

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Open their post-break schedule with the first of three at home against Baltimore on Friday.

Red Sox: Begin a three-game series in Detroit on Friday.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE