Boston Red Sox

For the first time all season, Red Sox ace Chris Sale was the one that truly let the Red Sox down.

On the wrong end of a 7-1 final against the Braves Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, the 6-foot-6 Sale struggled to the tune of five hits and six earned runs against in 4.1 innings of work. No hit or runs against loomed larger than the three-run homer Tyler Flowers (his second homer of the season) smacked off Sale in the top of the second inning.

After the loss, Sale was his usual accountable self, and went at his game harder than any bleacher heckler could have.

“I put my guys in a bad spot today, I really did.” Sale said after the loss, his second of the season. “I sucked. Bad.”

Although the start came with eight strikeouts for the hard-throwing lefty, it was also the first time that Sale had failed to pitch at least five innings this season, and came with three walks surrendered. That means that Sale has now surrendered nine walks in his last three starts (17 innings in all), bringing his 2018 total up to 20 in 75 innings pitched this year.

Sale, of course, gave up just 43 walks in 214.1 innings of work a season ago.

“[The walks are] obviously something that’s been bothering me,” Sale admitted. “It’s never really been a part of my game, up until recently. That’s what kills you. At the end of the day, those are the daggers. When you’re giving up free passes and making those shots two-run, three home runs, that’s what kills you. It sucks, it really does.

“You’re putting a lot of pressure on your offense.”

If it’s any consolation to Sale, the offense didn’t do much to help out, as they were held to just four hits in the losing effort.