With Moreland on his side this time, Sale's effort doesn't go to waste


BOSTON -- What a waste it would have been if the Red Sox lost Chris Sale’s tip-top debut start, even if the Sox had fallen in extra innings once he was out of the game.

He’s seen worse, though. And he has a Red Sox teammate, Mitch Moreland, to blame.


Including last night, there have been only 10 times in Sale’s career he’s allowed no runs, three hits or fewer and struck out at least seven.

His team is 9-1 in those games. The one loss came on June 19, 2015, in a game that might actually qualify his most dominant ever.

“I don’t know for sure,” Sale said when asked if he had ever been in a game like Wednesday’s. “But if you would’ve told me tonight was going to be 0-0 in the 12th, I probably would’ve given you a pretty crazy look.”

But it worked out.

It did not when Sale struck out 14 Texas Rangers in eight innings back on June 19, 2015.

He allowed just two hits and not a single walk. He was perfect for 5 2/3 innings, and he joined Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson as the third pitcher to strike out at least 12 hitters in five straight starts.

By a measurement called game score, which ranks games on a 0-to-100 scale, that game was one of Sale’s three best starts ever, with a score of 92. (By comparison, his Red Sox debut Wednesday night was an 81, which makes it a top-20 performance for him all-time.)

But the White Sox lost, with Moreland, the current Red Sox first baseman, to thank.

Protecting a 1-0 lead with two out in the ninth inning, White Sox closer David Robertson was ahead in the count 1-and-0 on Moreland, who never actually faced Sale.

“It was a pinch hit,” Moreland said. “I remember [Sale] dominating and it was kind of a lot like tonight, it wasn’t a whole lot of offense.”

Moreland smoked a two-run single to right field and the White Sox lost 2-1.

Sale and Moreland have never discussed how Moreland ruined what could be Sale's best start ever.

“We never got to it,” Moreland said.

But losses in games like Wednesday’s, in games like June 19, 2015, hurt when dominant pitching performances go by the wayside.

Moreland was a help this time around. He struck out in his final three at-bats but also made some fine picks at first base, and he nearly homered in the fourth inning, a potential two-run shot seemingly robbed by Andrew McCutchen, a converted center fielder playing right field.

McCutchen made the catch with no room and short fence behind him.

“I think it was gone anyways, it was probably the most nonchalant rob of a home run ever,” Moreland said. “I hit it pretty good.”

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