Chris Sale strode to the dugout after the seventh inning Wednesday night, and Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora asked his lanky left-hander whether he could keep going on a hot, humid night in Kansas City.
Sale struck out the side on nine pitches in the eighth for his second immaculate inning this season. Then the seven-time All-Star breezed through the Royals in the ninth, wrapping up an 8-0 win for his third career shutout.
Sale (2-7) has rebounded from a dismal April to put together a series of solid starts. His seventh double-digit strikeout game of the season was punctuated by that perfect eighth, when even Royals fans roared as he mowed through Kelvin Gutierrez, Nicky Lopez and Martin Maldonado.
Sale also had an immaculate inning May 8 against Baltimore, making him the second pitcher with two in one season since strikeout records have been kept. Lefty Grove did it in 1928.
Boston’s ace had plenty of help Mackie Bradley Jr. hit a three-run double during a four-run fifth that broke the game open, and Rafael Devers homered and finished with three RBIs.
Hard to imagine. The Red Sox have won three straight, scoring eight runs in each game. They’ve also won five straight at Kauffman Stadium dating to last season.
They jumped ahead against Royals starter Jakob Junis (4-6) with two runs in the first. And after the young right-hander settled down for a while, stranding runners at the corners in the second, Andrew Benintendi’s leadoff double in the fifth sparked the Red Sox onslaught.
By the time they loaded the bases later in the inning, and Bradley proceeded to empty them, Junis was headed for the showers and Boston was headed for another easy win.