Preview: Rays face Red Sox’s Chris Sale for fifth time this season
TV: FOX Sports Sun
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
BOSTON — There was a time earlier this season when people were talking about Chris Sale as a candidate to win both the Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award.
But the lanky left-hander, in his first year with the Red Sox, has cooled off, stopping that talk, with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber apparently forging ahead in the Cy Young Award race while the MVP talk is all but gone.
Sale, who has lost three of his last four starts to fall to 15-7 with a 2.85 ERA, faces the Tampa Bay Rays for the fifth time this season when he goes against right-hander Matt Andriese in Saturday night’s second game of a three-game series at Fenway Park.
Sale has pitched to a 3-1 record and a 5.48 ERA in those four previous starts against Tampa Bay — and that includes seven scoreless innings at Toronto Aug. 29.
He is 7-5 with a 3.32 ERA in 14 career appearances, including 12 starts, against Tampa Bay.
The calendar had turned to September when Sale yielded three runs on seven hits, three of them homers, in 4 1/3 innings at Yankee Stadium in his next start.
His September/October record is 9-15 (his only losing month), with a 3.84 ERA. His career ERA is 2.97. The last two Septembers, when he wasn’t even pitching in pressure situations, he posted ERAs of 4.39 and 4.34.
“Every starting pitcher goes through a period in late August, sometimes in September, that the body starts to feel the effects of 180, 190, 200 innings, wherever you are,” Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis told ESPN.com. “I think sometimes the meaningfulness of the game you’re pitching in kind of takes over, and I think that’s going to be the case with Chris.”
While Sale has faltered, Kluber is 7-1 in his last eight starts, the only loss coming against the Red Sox in a game he allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings.
Friday night, Drew Pomeranz joined Sale as a 15-game winner, the first time since 1953 (Mel Parnell and Mickey McDermott) the Red Sox have had two 15-game winners in the same season.
Andriese will be making only his second start since June 10 after missing two months with a hip injury. He beat the Red Sox at Fenway in May and comes into this game having allowed more than two earned runs in just two of his last eight starts. He needs to give his team a chance to win this game and hang in the wild-card chase.
All this while the Rays deal with the hurricane about to hit their home state.
After Friday night’s loss in the series opener, manager Kevin Cash said the troubles at home are not a distraction, but you have to wonder.
In his return outing, against Oakland, Andriese had a four-decision winning streak snapped to fall to 5-2, with a 3.78 ERA. He gave up five runs in five innings, throwing 74 pitches.
“I liked that I felt healthy,” he said after that game. “I went through five innings, felt pretty good the whole time out there. I was consistent in the strike zone, but I think I made a couple pitches that were a little bit easier to hit. First start back in a while, so it feels good to get back out there.”
He is 2-1 with a 4.11 ERA in seven games, including five starts, against Boston, including 1-1 with a 6.94 at Fenway.
He pitched five innings while allowing four hits and two runs in that victory over the Red Sox in May, which was his only appearance against Boston this season.
Logan Morrison is 5-for-14 (.357) with a homer and Kevin Kiermaier 3-for-8 (.375) with a homer lifetime against Sale. But Evan Longoria is just 3-for-33 (.091) with 14 strikeouts and Steven Souza Jr. 1-for-19 (.056) with 12 Ks against the Boston ace.
Dustin Pedroia is 4-for-8 (.500), Hanley Ramirez 3-for-7 (.429), Mookie Betts 6-for-15 (.400) and Sandy Leon and Brock Holt both 3-for-10 (.300) against Andriese, while Jackie Bradley Jr. is 0-for-12 with six strikeouts against him.