And he comes into the game with his fellow starters having been rocked in two of the last three games.
“The first time through I thought it was what we anticipated, guys going into the seventh inning first time out, but two of the last three nights it’s shown up on the flip side of that,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Rick Porcello was hammered in Friday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays — which came two nights after Steven Wright was blasted by the Baltimore Orioles.
“That’s got a compounding affect, obviously with the number of innings pitched out of that bullpen,” said Farrell. “We’re capable of better and honestly the way we’re built we need consistency out of the rotation and I’m confident we’ll get that.”
Sale, acquired in a huge offseason trade with the Chicago White Sox, is already there. But despite a nifty 1.23 ERA and allowing two runs on 11 hits and striking out 17 in 14 2/3 innings, Sale is 0-1 heading into his second Fenway start with the Red Sox.
He yielded three hits and no runs April 5 against the Pirates at Fenway, in a game the Red Sox won in 12 innings. Then, last weekend in Detroit, he gave up eight hits and two runs in 7 2/3 innings in his latest start against Tigers ace Justin Verlander, losing 2-1.
Odorizzi won his second start, retiring 16 of the first 17 Blue Jays he faced in the win over Toronto — his sixth straight start allowing two runs or less against the Jays. He yielded two hits and two runs in six innings, evening his record at 1-1.
The right-hander threw 25 pitches in the first inning of that game and survived getting hit on the back of a leg with a line drive before settling in to win on the day he became the sixth pitcher to make 100 start in a Rays uniform.
“I just kind of found the groove, and that was about it,” he said. “I was a lot more erratic this start than my one before, and I had better results. It was just one of those days where I was kind of fighting myself, but I was able to get through it.”
Sale was hard on himself for giving up the go-ahead run to the Tigers, something that impressed former Red Sox ace and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.
“That’s a sign of greatness,” Martinez told 98.5 The Sports Hub Tuesday. “When you don’t settle, not even for having a great game like that, and you’re striving to get better … he’s aiming for perfection. I know he’s not going to get perfection (all the time), but he’s going do the best that he can every single time out.”
Odorizzi is 3-3 with a 4.13 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox but is just 1-3 with a 6.08 ERA at Fenway. He faced Boston five times last year, going 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
Sale was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA — 16 strikeouts and no walks — in two starts against the Rays for the White Sox last season, including a two-hit shutout April 15. Lifetime, he is 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 55 innings against Tampa Bay.
The current Rays are hitting a combined .139 with three extra base hits in 79 at-bats against him, with Evan Longoria 1-for-21 with eight strikeouts and newcomer Derek Norris 1-for-11 with four strikeouts.
Sale comes into this start having issued one or zero walks in a career-high tying eight straight starts dating back to last season. He has walked one in each of his two starts with the Red Sox.
Dustin Pedroia is 10-for-26 (.385) with two homers and three RBIs against Odorizzi, while Xander Bogaerts is 9-for-24, Brock Holt 5-for-17 and Mookie Betts 6-for-20. Jackie Bradley Jr., the Boston player who has had the most trouble against Odorizzi, is on the disabled list, while Pablo Sandoval is 1-for-6.