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Chris Sale struck out 17 batters in 7 innings and looks OK now

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Red Sox ace Chris Sale inspired all sorts of panic and hand-wringing with a couple of lousy starts and some underwhelming radar readings in the early part of the season. But like the rest of the Red Sox, Sale looks just fine now.

I wrote about this and the pitfalls of small sample size at length Tuesday morning, then Sale forced me back to the same well by striking out 17 Rockies in a seven-inning effort at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

The Red Sox wound up losing the game in 11 innings, but Sale looked spectacular in his best outing of the season to date. You really need to watch it:



Do you hear that guttural, sensual moaning noise accompanying the video? That’s you, reflexively soundtracking a vintage Chris Sale performance. The strikeouts are all so beautiful I can’t choose a favorite, so I’m narrowing it down to five and giving you a poll. The other 12 were also really cool, too.

1. Making a fool of Nolan Arenado

That is a very good hitter looking very bad on a changeup that disappears off the outside corner.

2. Back-footing Ian Desmond

Desmond is basically on the way back to the dugout before he’s even finished swinging.



3. Snatching Chris Iannetta’s soul

I don’t know if the GIF really does this one justice, and Sale probably left this changeup higher in the strike zone than he wanted it, but it still looks like it stops short just as it’s reaching the plate.

4. Haunting Charlie Blackmon’s dreams

Oh, yeah: Look at the little strike-zone plot on the side of all these to see how masterfully Sale painted the corners. Sale set up Blackmon with a pair of low-90s two-seamers on the inside corner, then froze him with 96 at the knees on the outer half on his 90th pitch of the night.

5. Clowning Raimel Tapia

“Hey, we scored two runs off this guy and now the game is close in the seventh! If I can just turn on an inside fastball, I, Raimel Tapia will be the hero who ties this game up for the Rockies, and. what do you know, HERE IT IS, an inside fastball, I will clobber this pit— OH NO IT LEFT”

After going 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA and disturbingly pedestrian rate stats in his first four starts, Sale has a 1.91 ERA and 59 strikeouts against only six walks in 33 innings over his last four outings. It turns out he’s still good.

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