ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — A pitcher dreams of starts like this, his team giving him a big early lead before he even throws a pitch. Of course, teams dream of having a starting pitcher like Chris Sale.
The two came together in brilliant fashion on a warm Friday night, with the Boston Red Sox scoring five times in the top of the first and Sale throwing six scoreless innings in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
“We spotted him five runs in the first inning,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “I thought we did an outstanding job of stringing hits together, hitting pitches where they were located and using the whole field.”
And then turning it over to Sale, who continued his dominating season.
Sale (12-4) allowed four hits and struck out nine to push his major league-leading total to 200. He walked one and lowered his American League-best ERA to 2.48.
“I’ve not been around a pitcher who’s had that kind of focus,” Farrell said. “His strikeout capability is certainly unique. He’s an elite pitcher. And it’s not just with one pitch. It’s three different ones he can get strikeouts with.”
He became just the fourth pitcher to reach the 200-strikeout mark in 20 or fewer starts, joining Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson (three times) and Pedro Martinez.
“It’s cool,” Sale said. “I appreciate it. I’m not the biggest fan of looking at stuff like that. Those are things for the offseason or to tell my grandkids.”
Sale has won 11 of his last 13 decisions. He improved to 6-0 against the Angels with a 1.23 ERA in seven starts (nine games).
“He’s really deceptive, uses both sides of the plate and has really good secondary stuff,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Boston jumped on erratic Angels starter Ricky Nolasco (4-11) in the first, with six of its first seven batters collecting a hit. Nolasco went four innings and allowed all six runs on nine hits and a walk.
The Angels avoided a shutout when Martin Maldonado hit a solo home run off reliever Kyle Martin in the seventh. It was his 11th homer of the season.
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