Royals set to face familiar foe with Sale on mound (Jun 20, 2017)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chris Sale will be the Boston Red Sox starter on Tuesday in the middle game of a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals have seen Sale often when he was in the American League Central with the Chicago White Sox.

“We all know Chris Sale,” Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. “We’ve got an opportunity to face him the last few years. He’s a great pitcher. He’s one of the best in the game. He’s definitely a tough day when he’s on the mound.”

Sale has a 2.97 ERA in 31 career appearances, 20 of them starts, against the Royals. He went 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts against Kansas City last season. He tossed at least six innings in all five outings and went seven innings or more in four of them.

Sale (8-3, 2.82 ERA) leads the majors with 136 strikeouts in 99 innings, averaging 12.36 per nine innings. Opponents have a .554 OPS against Sale, which ranks third in the majors.

The Royals will counter with rookie left-hander Matt Strahm (2-3, 3.67 ERA), who will be making his second major league start after breaking in as a reliever. He allowed one run, three hits and a walk in five innings to beat the Angels in his first start on Thursday.

“It was awesome to get the first one out of the way and now just concentrate on the second one,” Strahm said.

Some pitchers lose velocity when moving from the bullpen to the rotation as they pace themselves. Strahm, however, did not have any velocity drop-off in Anaheim.

“Dave (Eiland, pitching coach) told me before I went out there, ‘Do not do that,'” Strahm said. “He said just , “Go out there and when we think it’s time we’ll come get you, take it pitch by pitch and we’ll come get you.’

“I felt I held up pretty well. The next day was normal soreness to what I had last year when starting. Now get ready for tomorrow.”

Strahm made 18 starts for Double-A Northwest Arkansas last season when the Royals summoned him to be used as a reliever. The club, however, envisions him as a starter.

“I felt like it, but whatever they want me to do I’ll do it,” Strahm said. “It doesn’t matter to me when or where. Tomorrow is when.

“It’s like riding a bike to me, I guess. It’s a four-day routine. It’s worked for me the last three years in the minor leagues. Now I’m just back at it.”

Strahm faced Boston once last year, throwing 2 2/3 hitless innings to pick up a victory at Fenway Park.

Being paired against Sale does not bother Strahm.

“I’m not stepping into the box against him, so it doesn’t change my mindset at all,” he said. “It’s the Boston hitters I’ve got to worry about.”

Cain has hit Sale well — a .346 average with three home runs and eight RBIs in 52 at-bats. Alcides Escobar has a .335 average in 68 at-bats against Sale.

The Red Sox are short-handed with Dustin Pedroia out because of sore ribs after being hit by a pitch Sunday. Two Red Sox starters, Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez, and reliever Robbie Ross are on the disabled list.

“No one cares about what we’re going through outside these walls,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “We’re banged up a little bit, but so are a number of teams, so that’s no excuse.”