Red Sox

What lies ahead for Chris Sale after strong return

Red Sox

Chris Sale has been everything the Boston Red Sox hoped he'd be since returning from Tommy John surgery earlier this month.

The left-handed ace has won all three of his starts while posting a 2.35 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 21 strikeouts. His most recent start Thursday against the Minnesota Twins even included an immaculate inning, the third of Sale's illustrious MLB career.

Tomase: Chris Sale's 'F-U' fastballs are further proof he's back

Here's a look at Sale's line in each of his first three starts...

Saturday, Aug. 14 vs. Baltimore Orioles: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 8 K, 0 BB (W, 16-2)

Friday, Aug. 20 vs. Texas Rangers: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 1 BB (W, 6-0)

Thursday, Aug. 26 vs. Minnesota Twins: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 8 K, 2 BB (W, 12-2)

It's clear Sale's presence has been a difference-maker for a Red Sox team that has had its fair share of struggles lately.

The road ahead will get slightly more difficult for Sale, who's scheduled to face the first-place Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field for his next start. He also is projected to make a couple of challenging starts against the American League Central-leading Chicago White Sox and the surging New York Yankees, though he may have two more chances to boost his stats vs. the hapless Orioles.

The Red Sox remain seven games behind the Rays in the AL East and clinging to the second wild-card spot despite taking two of three from the lowly Rangers and Twins. They'll look to gain some ground in their three-game series vs. the Cleveland Indians, which begins Friday night.