The Boston Red Sox like what they've been getting from Chris Sale lately. The left-hander now gets an opportunity to end the team's three-game losing streak when he starts against the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.
Sale, an All-Star every year from 2012 to 2018, has battled injuriesduring the last three seasons that limited him to 48 1/3 innings on the mound during that stretch, but he has looked like his former self during his past five starts. He went 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA in those five outings, striking out 35 and walking four in 32 1/3 innings.
"I feel like I'm trending in a good direction," Sale said following his latest start, when he pitched five innings of one-run ball during a 7-2 triumph against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. "I've been around here too long to feel like I'm on top of a mountain and all, and I've still got a lot of work to do."
Sale (5-2, 4.72 ERA) had an 11.25 ERA after his first three starts of the season, and he had allowed 25 baserunners in 12 innings. Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the turning point came after Sale tweaked his delivery before he faced the Baltimore Orioles in his fifth start of the season on April 24.
Thursday will be Sale's first career appearance against Cincinnati.
"I'm going out there and having fun again -- and not throwing every pitch with three years of hate behind it," Sale told USA Today. "I'm going out there with the attitude that today is a new day. Take it for what it is. Appreciate it, because I sure know it can be taken away."
Hunter Greene (1-4, 4.18 ERA) will take the mound for the Reds, who have won the first two games of the three-game series and are riding a five-game winning streak.
The 23-year-old right-hander was stellar in his latest outing, when he didn't allow a hit in six innings to help the Reds defeat the Chicago Cubs 9-0 on Friday. He struck out 11 and walked two.
Greene has made one career start against the Red Sox -- one year ago to the day. He took the loss after allowing four runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings as Boston won 7-1. Greene struck out seven and didn't allow a run in the first three innings of that game, but the Red Sox chased him by scoring four times in the fourth.
The Reds hung on to beat the Red Sox 9-8 on Tuesday, then rallied from a 3-1 deficit to prevail 5-4 on Wednesday.
Cincinnati manager David Bell called the Wednesday win a team effort, but he singled out reliever Buck Farmer, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to collect his first save of the year.
"Everybody (got) in the game that was available, and Buck Farmer stepping up," Bell said. "(Closer) Alexis Diaz needed a day off. He's been pitching a lot. Buck stepped right in and showed what kind of pitcher he was. That was how it ended, but great at-bats throughout the night, good defensive plays (and) Luke Weaver with a nice start."
--Field Level Media