Through Chris Sale’s first two starts donning the Red Sox emblem across his chest, he has recorded a 1.23 ERA, 17 strikeouts and a 0.682 WHIP. He’s allowed just eight hits, two earned runs, two walks and one long ball. Any logical human being would say that he’s got a perfect 2-0 record, right? Well, unfortunately, that person would be wrong. Through Sale’s first two starts with his new team, he has a 0-1 record. That’s simply criminal.
Why is Sale putting up Sale-type numbers, yet is unable to win a game? Run support. Sale’s teammates have given him four measly runs to work with. That’s being nice, actually. Three of those runs were courtesy of Sandy Leon’s three-run walk-off moon shot in the 12th inning of Sale’s debut, long after he was taken out of the game after pitching a beauty, per usual. The Sox won that game, miraculously, but Sale was tagged with no decision. That game went into extra innings tied at zero. You simply cannot do that with Chris freaking Sale starting the game for you.
Then, in Sale’s second Red Sox start, they gave him one lone run to work with. Yes, they were facing Justin Verlander, but my goodness. Essentially, Sale has been given one run to work with. No way in hell is that going to ever get you anywhere. This happened just last year with the Red Sox, too, which is even more frustrating. On multiple occasions, David Price would have pitched a gem but threw one bad pitch and would wind up losing the game, thanks to absolutely no help from the offense. We’ve definitely seen this movie before, unfortunately.
In Boston’s offense’s defense, they’re without David Ortiz for the first time in a very, very long time. No matter who the team got to help fill the void in the middle of the lineup, nothing was going to solve that problem, by any means. Plus, about two thirds of the team was infected with the plague (pretty much), so it’s kind of hard to score runs when half of your roster is puking everywhere, twenty-four hours a day. Mookie Betts was ill, Hanley Ramirez had downright influenza, Xander Bogaerts was sick while also on bereavement leave, Andrew Benintendi was throwing up in the middle of one game, you name it.
Even despite their main lineup being dismantled, the Red Sox were still more than capable of scoring more than one run for Chris Sale over a two-game span. This is a major league baseball club; guys need to be ready to bat whenever, just in case something like this happens to the team. There’s no excuse for that when you have someone like Sale pitching for you. If anything, that should give you motivation to go out there and cross home plate as often as possible. Plus, Sale seems like the type of guy who isn’t afraid to call guys out in the clubhouse after performances like that. Nobody ever wants that to go down.
Unfortunately, Sale is no stranger at all to having negative run support, formerly pitching for the White Sox for six years, after all. To make Red Sox fans feel better about the lack of runs Boston has given Sale thus far in this new era, here are some eye-popping stats from when Sale was a White Sock: last season, Sale won a career-high 17 starts with just 4.56 runs of support each start, which is two runs less than what Cy Young winner Rick Porcello received from the Red Sox last season. To add onto that, in 2015, Sale received just 3.81 runs of support per game, good for 29th in the league. The season before that, it was 3.88 runs of support, 32nd in the league, and in 2013, he got just 3.20 per game, 35th in the league. That’s simply cruel and epitomizes the Chicago White Sox almost perfectly.
Also in 2013, Sale actually had a losing record of 11-14, despite posting a 3.07 ERA while striking out 226 batters. Then, in 2014, Sale only started 26 games, but won 12 of them while tallying a 2.17 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in debatably the best year of his career thus far. So, in summary, it could be much, much worse for Sale and the Red Sox. Be thankful for what you have is the moral of the story.
As it goes for present day Sale, there’s nothing to worry about in regards to run support. He’s only pitched in two games so far, even though he should have won both of them. The real lineup is slowly coming back to health, and I emphasize slowly. The healthier the starting lineup gets, the more wins Sale will rack up. I’d even bet on that. A healthy, full-strength Red Sox lineup consisting of Betts, Bogaerts, Ramirez, Benintendi and guys to the likes of them with Sale on the mound is deadly. Give the team some time and they will be mowing teams down like nobody’s business. In a month or two, this ball club will, at last, be the super team that they were coined way back in the offseason. There is zero need to worry about run support. It will most certainly come; last year in regards to David Price is very much in the past.