Chris Sale is a step closer to returning to the big leagues after making his third rehab start in Portland on Sunday. It was Sale’s second start for the Sea Dogs this week, after throwing on Tuesday.
For the second straight outing, Sale threw 3.2 innings, again facing the Harrisburg Senators (Minor League Baseball uses a six-game series format). However, he threw 64 total pitches on Sunday (46 for strikes) compared to 49 on Tuesday.
Sale’s pitch count was higher in part due to the number of strikeouts. The lefty fanned nine of the 18 hitters he faced, all without issuing a walk. His main punch-out pitch was his slider, which looks to be back in form. He also recorded a few strikeouts with his fastball, which topped out at 96 MPH.
One pitch, one out for Chris Sale pic.twitter.com/bKdhQIaftd— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) July 25, 2021
Chris Sale strikeout with the slider pic.twitter.com/IZ4zTowhTn— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) July 25, 2021
Sale did run into a bit of trouble in the third. Osvaldo Duarte – the Senators’ nine hitter who entered the game batting .175 – took Sale deep to center field. That was followed by a double and bunt single, putting runners on the corners with one out. However, Sale would strike out the next two batters, ending the threat. In total, Sale allowed six hits in the 3.2 innings, with two earned runs (one was allowed by the relief pitcher after he was pulled in the fourth).
Chris Sale through 3 IP, 55 pitches: 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HBP— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) July 25, 2021
Things got a little rocky in the third between a HR, 2B, and bunt single, but he worked around the jam. @985TheSportsHub pic.twitter.com/EcYct0qKcV
Sale’s rehab isn’t quite done, although he will be moving on from Portland. Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters Sale’s next start will come on Saturday, and this time he’ll throw in Worcester for the WooSox. With the initial prognosis for his return being ‘early August,’ it doesn’t seem unrealistic that – depending how that start goes – it could be his last in the minors. Sale is still working his way back after undergoing Tommy John surgery last March, and ensuing complications that he dealt with this past spring.
Chris Sale strikes out 9 in Portland. pic.twitter.com/jzCvkAJLQT— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) July 26, 2021
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.