Red Sox

Here’s how Chris Sale fared in his first Red Sox start since 2019

He allowed two solo shots and struck out eight in five innings.

Chris Sale pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

The wait is over, Red Sox fans. Chris Sale is back.

Sale made his first big league start in two years and one day after a long journey following Tommy John surgery in March of 2020.

He tossed five sharp innings against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, allowing two solo home runs and six hits, walking none, and striking out eight on 89 pitches.

Sale, who threw 60 strikes, left with a 7-2 lead. The Red Sox extended the margin to 14-2 in the bottom of the fifth and ended up winning 16-2.

“He was amazing, he was great,” manager Alex Cora said. “Today was a special day for this organization.”

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Sale was emotional afterward, clearly invigorated by the opportunity.

“This game was ripped out of my hands,” Sale said. “I had a hole in my chest for two years … I’m not wasting another damn day in my big league career.”

Here’s a look at how Sale’s day unfolded:

Fifth inning

Sale got a little help in the fifth inning, as Hunter Renfroe picked up his major league-leading 14th outfield assist when he fired a cannon from right field to third base.

Richie Martin got there before the throw did, but he momentarily came off the bag and Rafael Devers applied the tag. After a review, Martin was ruled out, which left the Orioles with a runner at first and one out and instead of runners at the corners and no outs.

Sale struck out Austin Hays, then got Trey Mancini to ground out to short. It was clear at that point that Sale’s day was done, and it was a positive one overall outside of the two homers in the third.

Fourth inning

Sale registered his sixth and seventh strikeouts, hitting 95 on the gun and also inducing a fly ball to right. Ryan McKenna doubled to left and made it to third, but he stayed there.

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The Red Sox preserved their 6-2 lead and Sale entered the fifth at 70 pitches.

Third inning

After the Red Sox extended their lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the second, it appeared as though Sale was on his way to a smooth third inning.

He struck out Richie Martin swinging and got Austin Wynns to ground to short, but Austin Hays homered to left and Trey Mancini did the same to center. Sale regrouped and fanned Pedro Severino to keep the margin at 6-2 Red Sox.

Second inning

Pitching with a 4-0 lead, Sale retired the side 1-2-3 in the second. He struck out Ryan McKenna looking, cleanly fielded a harmless grounder from Maikel Franco, then got Jorge Mateo to ground to third.

Through two innings, he allowed one hit, walked none, and struck out three, and 21 of his 34 pitches have been strikes.

First inning

Sale was sharp right away, and he both entered and left to a huge ovation. His first pitch was a 94 mph fastball to Austin Hays that Hays foul-tipped. Sale got Hays to pop out to shallow left, then he struck out Trey Mancini on a nasty 78-mph slider.

Pedro Severino reached on a soft dribbler toward third, then Sale fanned Anthony Santander on a 96 mph delivery. He threw 15 pitches and 11 were strikes.

Pregame

The Red Sox made it official Saturday afternoon when they returned the left-hander from his injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester and reinstated him from the 60-day injured list.

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Sale posted a 1.35 ERA with 35 strikeouts and five walks in 20 innings spread across five-rehab starts.

“It’s April for him. It’s April,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters Friday. “We’ll take care of him early on.”

At the same time, Sale made it clear this isn’t a “flyover game” or an “everyone’s happy” game. He’s returning at a pivotal juncture in the season and is eager to help the sputtering Red Sox – who are 4-11 in their last 15 – make a postseason push.

“When I go out there for the first time, there will be fire on my feet,” Sale said.

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