Coming into Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers at Fenway, Chris Sale had recorded 10 or more strikeouts in five of his previous six starts. In the one start in which he didn’t reach 10, he had nine and got the win.
Sale was the American League Pitcher of the Month in June and that momentum has carried into July. While a certain other big money lefty hasn’t lived up to his opulent contract, the 29 year-old ace continues to exceed expectations on his way to his seventh consecutive All-Star Game.
In the midst of Boston’s eight-game winning streak, Sale had a chance on Wednesday to make history for himself as well as the Red Sox’ 117-year franchise.
He didn’t disappoint, fanning 12 Rangers and becoming the only pitcher in Major League history to record 11-plus strikeouts and no more than one walk in five consecutive starts. He’s now 10-4 on the year and his ERA has dipped down to 2.23.
Perhaps equally as impressive as Sale’s ability to make batters miss is his knack for keeping the ball in the yard when they do make contact. He hasn’t allowed a single home run in his last 51 innings.
As for the Sox as a team, they’ve won nine games in a row and 16 of their last 19 to improve to a Major League-best 65-29, 3.5 games ahead of the Yankees for the lead in the AL East. It’s the first time since 1948 that a Sox team has had two nine-game winning streaks in a single season, and the first time since 1978 that they’ve been 36 games over .500.
As I’ve said before, this team is better built for postseason success than the ones we saw last year and the year before. They’re the clear-cut best club in baseball right now and it’s not up for debate.
The first half wraps up with a four-game series against the Blue Jays at Fenway this weekend. David Price is on the mound for the first one so we might need our bats to bail him out, which they’re fully capable of doing.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour