For the Boston Red Sox to compete for the American League pennant in 2023, they'll likely need Chris Sale to have a bounce-back season and be a legit No. 1 or No. 2 caliber starting pitcher.
Sale's performance in his season debut Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park was the exact opposite of what the Red Sox are looking for from their ace.
The 34-year-old left-hander lasted just three innings. He gave up seven hits, two walks and seven earned runs, while also striking out two. He gave up three home runs as well, and left with the Red Sox trailing 7-1 entering the fourth inning.
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Sale was very hard on himself after his lackluster outing.
“I left them completely out to dry tonight,” Sale told reporters Saturday. “That was about as embarrassed that I’ve ever been on a baseball field. Bullpen couldn't have done a better job. From the fourth inning on, against that lineup -- I was out there throwing batting practice -- for them to get through the rest of the game with just one minor thing, it was amazing."
The Red Sox did mount an impressive comeback and won 9-8 on Adam Duvall's walk-off home run in the ninth inning. But they won't climb out of many more 7-1 deficits this season.
Boston Red Sox
Sale's career with the Red Sox has been full of injuries and setbacks. He has started just 13 games since 2019. Saturday's start was his first since July 17, 2022.
Now that Sale is healthy, the Red Sox need him to be effective every five days. The Red Sox don't have a lot of high-end talent or depth in their rotation. And so far, this group has been a major weakness. Boston's top two starting pitchers -- Corey Kluber and Sale -- have allowed 12 earned runs in the first two games of the season.