A tremendous effort from the Red Sox ace resulted in a no-decision, joining statistical anomalies.
It was an electric, yet sobering night at Fenway Park as Chris Sale stifled Rockies hitters to the tune of a career high 17 punch outs. Adding to the sobriety was the Red Sox blowing a late lead and losing a game in which the opposition struck out well over 20 times.
Masterful may be an understatement to describe Sale’s dominant performance on the mound. He became the first Major League pitcher to strikeout 17 men in a game where he only pitched seven innings. For a pitcher that “struggles” in cold conditions, Sale was electric on a night that didn’t see 50 degrees. The Red Sox ace re-asserted himself as top of the line starting pitcher in all of baseball, regardless of the outcome.
It is, however, rare for a pitcher to end up garnering a no decision on a night where they punch out 17 men. Chris Sale joins one of his favorite play comparisons in Randy Johnson in elite no-decision performances. The Big Unit had multiple outings in which he struck out 15+ batters, yet left without a win.
In 2001, Johnson became one of only four pitchers to reach the 20 strikeout plateau, but earned a no decision as the Arizona Diamondbacks fell to the Cincinnati Reds. At the time, the Chris Sale loss feels terrible (and it should), but the Hall of Famer’s performance may contend with Sale’s as a terrible regular season loss.
Enjoy every punch out from Sale’s record-setting evening!
Chris Sale’s 17Ks tonight…in under 37 seconds. 😳 pic.twitter.com/2F8NvChI2e— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 15, 2019
Alex Cora made the correct decision in allowing Sale to exit after seven magnificent innings, but many will be left pondering “what if” as the lefty had a chance to reach the 20 strikeout mark.