Red Sox’s Sale to return as ‘opener’ against Blue Jays
But don’t get excited — Sale will just be working as what is now called, “the opener,” pitching the first two innings before departing.
“Two the first time, hopefully three the second time, then keep going,” Rays manager Alex Cora said. “And then the last one, whenever it is, like a full-go, six or seven innings and 100 pitches.”
Nathan Eovaldi, who has been struggling, will get the long work behind Sale, whose bid for a first Cy Young Award appears to be have been erased by the lack of work.
Rookie left-hander Ryan Borucki works for the Jays, who come in after a win Sunday in Cleveland and are playing out the string — using young players amid talk that manager John Gibbons will not return in 2019.
The current Red Sox roster is a cumulative 17-for-41 (.415) against Borucki.
Sale is 12-4 with a 1.97 ERA. He has thrown 28 straight scoreless innings and had 10-plus strikeouts in seven of his last eight starts, averaging 15.88 Ks per nine innings during that span.
He hasn’t pitched since Aug. 12, when he returned to the DL after making one return start because of left shoulder inflammation.
He has thrown five innings since July 27.
The injury is not thought to be serious, but combined with Sale’s history of being ineffective late in seasons — including a poor start in last year’s American League Division Series, it is a concern.
The Red Sox, who have won 98 games (49 home, 49 road) — salvaged the finale of a three-game series with the Houston Astros, winning Sunday night’s game in what could be a postseason preview (a rematch of 2017?). The win lowered Boston’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot to one and to win the AL East to 12.
“That was awesome,” said Boston pitcher Rick Porcello, who started and couldn’t take advantage of a 5-1 lead to get a no-decision. “Good ballclub over there, especially avoiding the sweep, especially the way we did it. It’s a good win for us; we needed it.”
The Red Sox have gone 12-4 against the Blue Jays this season, including 6-1 at Fenway.
The last time he faced the Blue Jays was May 11, when Sale struck out 15 in a nine-inning no-decision. He is 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA lifetime against Toronto.
Borucki faces the Red Sox for the third time this season and the results have not been good. He has worked eight innings, yielding 17 hits and 11 runs (eight earned).
Borucki had quality starts in eight of his 13 times on the mound since his recall in late June.
The Jays (65-78) have split their last 10 games and gone 10-9 in their last 19.
Toronto’s Randal Grichuk avoided a concussion when he collided with a security guard’s chair Sunday in Toronto. He is day to day after tests came back negative.
“They took him in to get X-rays and the concussion thing,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after the game. “He was conscious. I don’t think he blacked out, to be honest with you.
“I don’t know that, but I saw him in the clubhouse between innings, and he was grinning and laughing a little bit, so that’s a good sign.”
Said Gibbons: “He’s a pretty boy, man. You don’t want to hurt that face.”