There’s very little reason to believe a pitcher performs better or worse against a certain team for any reason. Roster turn over so frequently that it’s probably just a matter of luck when one teams owns a specific pitcher. But the Indians dominance of Chris Sale is so far from his normal performance, it’s hard not to wonder if it’s in his head.
Over the past five seasons, Sale has a 5.87 ERA in 15 starts against the Tribe—a fairly substantial sample size.
On Thursday night the Indians roughed him up again, knocking Sale out after just three innings in which he allowed seven runs on seven hits with just three strikeouts.
From the Indians perspective, the night was particularly exciting for the bottom of the order. Yandy Diaz, Giovanny Urshela and Robert Perez each entered the game with batting averages below .200, but combined to go 9-13 with eight RBI.
Urshela and Perez will never be threats at the plate, but Diaz’s 4-4 performance could be a sign of things to come. He has the power to produce at a high level if he can consistently make good contact and start driving the ball into the outfield. Hopefully this performance will boost his confidence and allow him to earn more playing time down the stretch.
Other thoughts and notes on the game…
Sale also allowed seven runs against the Tribe earlier this month in Fenway. He becomes just the third pitcher to allowed seven or more runs to the Indians twice in the same month in the last 50 season, joining Brad Radke (1996) and Jack Morris (1993).
In the 8th inning, Diaz was tagged out after coming off 2nd base after his double. He was ruled safe but replay overturned the ball. The game was well in hand at this point, which prompted Tom Hamilton to rant about Red Sox manager John Farrell‘s decision to challenge the play. As much as I love Hammy’s home run calls, I hate when he rants like this. Farrell was doing the right thing for his time, and we would all want Francona to do the same thing in that situation. Sale was pulled in the 3rd inning, so the bullpen was working overtime tonight. It absolutely made sense to challenge the play and pick up an inning-ending out rather than prolong the game and force the bullpen to throw even more pitches. Hamilton’s “get off by lawn” rants get old really fast when he doesn’t think through these things from the perspective of the other team.