The last few weeks have been a struggle for the Boston Red Sox, but if Saturday's game was any indication, they're going to get a much-needed boost from ace Chris Sale for the rest of the season.
The veteran left-hander made his long-awaited return to the mound at Fenway Park -- a huge milestone for him after undergoing from Tommy John surgery last year. Saturday's start was Sale's first since Aug. 13, 2019.
Sale was very good in his return, giving up two earned runs and six hits while striking out eight with zero walks over five innings. He also picked up the win as the Red Sox crushed the Orioles 16-2.
Walking to the dugout after recording the final out of the fifth inning and embracing Red Sox manager Alex Cora and teammates was an emotional moment for Sale.
"That was everything to me. These guys have had my back since the jump, my family, too," Sale said after the game. "I'm very lucky and very fortunate -- through all this I've been able to realize that more. I had some bad days over the last couple years, but they don't compare to a lot of people's bad days. Perspective has helped me out a lot. Hell, I was on top of the world. I threw the last pitch of the (2018) World Series, show up to spring training and sign this huge contract, and like that (it's) gone. Clearly, I wasn't expecting it.
"I'm just so freakin' appreciative. I can't think of anything else. My guys sending me text messages, giving me phone calls. ... My teammates gave me life. This game was taken from me for two straight years. I realized how much I needed this game and needed my teammates and how they made me feel complete. I had a hole in my chest for two years and it sucked. For those guys to be there, it was a special moment. ..."
Rehab wasn't easy for Sale, and not playing for two years certainly wasn't easy. Those struggles are in the past, and Sale is ready to help the Red Sox bounce back and make up some ground in the American League East race. They have a great opportunity to do that over the next few weeks with plenty of games against inferior opponents such as Texas, Cleveland and Minnesota.
"To be here now, I just keep saying, I'm so appreciative. I put in a lot of work. A lot of people around me put in a lot of work," Sale said.
"This was a lot of stress for a lot of people, and a lot of hard work had to go in for me to be able to do this tonight. It was a long time, almost two years on the dot. I don't really do too well with waiting around and not holding my end of the slack. All that stuff is in the rearview mirror now, and I'm just appreciative that I'm here now and get to roll."