ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Chris Sale wishes he could be on the mound for the Boston Red Sox in their next series at Yankee Stadium.
Sale will have to settle for a spot along the dugout rail to watch the highly anticipated showdown after his 12-strikeout performance for the Red Sox, who beat the Texas Rangers 6-1 Sunday to maintain their AL East lead.
“They’re rolling, we’re catching our stride again. And it’ll be fun,” Sale said. “This is our first time going up to New York, so I wish I was getting the ball in one of those games. But there’s only so much you can do.”
The lefty did his part against the Rangers with his season high for strikeouts while lowering his ERA to 2.02. Sale (3-1) allowed one run on four hits over seven innings. He walked one and hit two batters.
The Red Sox have a major league-best 25-9 record and a one-game lead over the Yankees. Boston has won eight of 12 since its season-long losing streak of three games.
Boston took two of three from the Yankees at Fenway Park earlier this season, but New York has won 15 of 16 overall going into a three-game set that begins Tuesday night.
J.D. Martinez and Sandy Leon homered for the Red Sox, who took three of four in Texas to start a 10-game road trip that matches their longest of the season.
The Rangers have lost their first six home series in a season for the first time. They are 5-15 at home.
Sale got his first five outs by strikeouts and the only run against him was Ryan Rua’s homer in the seventh.
“He got sharper,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “The stuff that he brings, a fastball 92-97, and he puts it where he wants to … very minimal pitches in the middle of the zone. Everything else is out on the edges.”
The Rangers had the bases loaded in the second on a hit batsman, a single and an error before Sale stabbed a comeback liner by Carlos Perez. Sale put his glove up and his head down for the inning-ending out.
Sale, the Florida native, loved the sunny conditions with temperatures in the mid-80s.
“Little bit easier to stay loose,” he said. “Just had a good rhythm, too. Lot of things combined, I gained a little bit more within myself, too.”
Doug Fister (1-3) allowed six runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings, with five strikeouts and two walks.
“I felt really good, and location was OK, but this is a good ballclub, a big league club that puts you in the situation, it’s make or break,” said Fister, who made 15 starts for the Red Sox last season.
Boston went ahead to stay in the first when Mookie Betts, after a leadoff single and being hit in the back by a throw, scored on a double by Mitch Moreland. Martinez doubled in the third and came home on a single by Xander Bogaerts.
Martinez got his eighth homer of the season, and third in five games, with a solo shot in the seventh. That was an inning after Leon’s first homer, which came immediately after Fister hit Jackie Bradley Jr. with a 1-2 pitch.
“It’s big,” manager Alex Cora said of the homers. “It seems like we’re one swing away every day from creating a rally. … It seems like we’re always one baserunner away from two runs.”
Right-handed starters are 1-15 with a 7.48 ERA in 26 games against the Red Sox this season. … Rangers leadoff hitter Delino DeShields extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the third inning. It’s the longest streak by a Rangers player this season. … Texas struck out 52 times in the four-game series.
Red Sox: Betts left the game in the second inning because of a bruised right shoulder. He was hit on the upper back by first baseman Ronald Guzman’s throw when running to second base in the first inning. Betts batted again in the second before getting replaced in the field in the bottom of that inning.
“He’s OK,” Cora said. “He didn’t feel great. So I just took him out. It just makes sense for us. He’s got a day and a half off and it should be something day-to-day. He should be hopefully ready for Tuesday.”
Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor (left hamstring) was scheduled to play five innings in the field at Double-A Frisco. He will need to play a few more games there before the Rangers decide if he’s ready to rejoin them.
Red Sox: After a day off Monday, the Red Sox open the series against the Yankees. Drew Pomeranz is expected to start for Boston vs. Luis Severino.
Rangers: Matt Moore (1-4), who allowed 10 runs over four innings in his last start, takes the mound when Texas opens a three-game series at home against Detroit.