BOSTON — Red Sox ace Chris Sale struck out a career-high 17 in just seven innings against Colorado, then was pulled after 108 pitches on a chilly Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Sale became the first pitcher in major league history to fan 17 in a start of no more than seven innings.
The big league record for strikeouts in nine innings is 20, done five times. Roger Clemens did it twice for Boston, Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson also accomplished the feat and Max Scherzer was the last to do it, in 2016.
When Boston manager Alex Cora told Sale he was coming out, the lefty used his fingers to form the number 20.
Sale surpassed his previous best of 15 strikeouts, dominating the Rockies with a firm fastball and a sharp slider. A seven-time All-Star, Sale struck out the first six batters and fanned eight through three innings. He didn’t allow a runner until Mark Reynolds doubled to begin the fifth.
Sale gave up three hits, including a two-run homer to Nolan Arenado, didn’t walk anyone and left with a 3-2 lead. Brandon Workman relieved to begin the eighth and gave up a two-run homer to Charlie Blackmon.
The 17 strikeouts are the most by any pitcher in a game since Scherzer struck out 20 on May 11, 2016, against Detroit, and the most by a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez had 17 in 2000.
In his last outing Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles, Sale had 14 strikeouts in eight innings. He is the first pitcher to record at least 14 strikeouts in consecutive starts since Clayton Kershaw in 2015 (Aug. 28-Sept. 2).
It’s the second time in Sale’s career that he has recorded at least 14 strikeouts in consecutive starts (also done in 2015). He’s the third Red Sox pitcher in the live ball era (since 1920) to do so, joining Pedro Martinez, who did it three times, and Roger Clemens, who did it twice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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