BOSTON -- Chris Sale described the moment as "pissed off." Pitching coach Dana LeVangie used saltier language.
Whatever the level of profanity, both pitcher and coach expect to see a different Sale the next time he takes a mound, because all involved have seen enough.
"At some point," LeVangie noted, "you just say, '[Bleep] it, this is who I am."
On Wednesday, Sale extended one of the most shocking streaks in baseball by making his 12th consecutive regular-season start in Fenway Park without a win, joining a group that includes Frank Castillo, Pete Schourek, and Eduardo Rodriguez.
He allowed five runs vs. the White Sox and took a no-decision in the 8-7 loss. Chicago knocked him around for three runs in the first and two in the third before Sale got angry. From that point forward, he was a different pitcher.
Limiting the slider that the White Sox seemed to be sitting on, Sale reached back and found his vintage fastball, consistently blowing away the overmatched White Sox with heaters of 95-97 mph. He ended up going six innings and striking out 10 while his ERA climbed to 3.82, but over those final three innings, he basically said, "Bleep it. I'm Chris Sale."
"I got back to doing what makes me successful and just letting it eat," Sale said. "Once I got a little pissed off and started just getting after it, it changed a little bit, the dynamic of the game. A little bit of that and just trusting my stuff and just trying to fill the strike zone."
Sale threw 14 pitches of at least 96 mph, and all but two of them came in the final three innings. He had previously tried to place his slider with a needless level of precision, and it lacked its usual bite.
"That's usually one of my better pitches and especially for strikeouts, so it just got flat and I wasn't getting around it," Sale said. "Not getting it out in front, there's really no depth. It's more lateral than down.
"Like I said, later in the game it got a little bit better when I just started throwing it. I feel like I'm out there trying to shape pitches with how I'm throwing it instead of just letting the natural movement take its course. That's obviously on me. I'm out there trying to make pitches move in ways that they shouldn't and I've gone away from things that have made me successful. The last couple of innings of that game, I felt like I was able to get on top of that and just throw through it and get on top of it."
Will he be able to carry the cut-it-loose anger into his next start?
"Definitely worth a shot," he said.
LeVangie saw the final couple of innings as a potential turning point, noting that Sale's "flow just took off."
"Chris wants to not only be a leader for the Red Sox, but he wants to honor his contract and pitch the length of seasons and whatever," LeVangie said. "So, I wouldn't say that's a bad route for him to take, but what he did maybe after the fact, he got tired of it. There's going to be a next start. I'm pretty sure he's still going to be tired of it."
The Red Sox can only hope Sale stays angry.
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