Sale allowed four runs on five hits, three walks and two hit batsmen while striking out six over five innings in Monday's start against the Phillies. "One thing that really pisses me off is command," Sale told John Tomase of WEEI.com. "Walking guys, hitting guys with breaking balls. That kind of stuff can't happen."
Command is Sale's calling card -- he owns a career 5.12 K/BB mark -- but he didn't have it Monday. His fastball was fine, but the game-plan was to focus on his secondary offerings and the command was not there. He'll have another 10 days in camp to work on it and one more start before he presumably takes the ball Opening Day against the Rays.
Sale allowed two hits without a walk while striking out seven over five scoreless innings in Wednesday's start against the Twins.
This was Sale's second Grapefruit League start, but he's done plenty of work in intra-squad games and in other controlled environments. "Today I was able to change speeds and command the ball," Sale told Jenn McCaffrey of MassLive.com. "I felt like today was one of my better days overall in terms of my command and throwing strikes. In, out, up, down type of stuff." Both hits Sale allowed were one-out triples, which gave him an opportunity to get out of jams, which he did expertly. The left-hander got his pitch count up to 53 and will have two more spring starts before he presumably takes the ball Opening Day against the Rays.
Sale allowed one run on two hits without a walk while striking out five over four innings in Friday's start against the Marlins.
Sale was making his first Grapefruit League start after ramping up in minor-league games. The Red Sox and Sale agreed that the pitcher would take a slower approach this spring, and the results were as good as Boston hoped. He was mostly dominant and left after throwing 58 pitches.
Sale faced 15 batters and threw 52 pitches over four innings in a controlled minor-league game, Nick Friar of WEEI.com reports.
Sale is taking on a more gradual pace this spring relative to last year, when he said he was in midseason form too early. That led to a fade down the stretch, when he posted a 4.09 ERA over his final 11 starts. The goal is to have him strong from April through October.
Sale acknowledged his late-season struggles in 2017 and plans to take measures to avoid a similar fate this season, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports.
Sale admitted he was trying way too hard early in the season, ramping his fastball up to the mid-90s along with a wipeout slider in spring training. That carried over into the season's first half but was unsustainable over the long haul. His downturn started Aug. 1, when he allowed seven runs over five innings to the Indians and led to a 4.09 ERA over his final 11 starts. "You know I was new here last year. I came in and I felt like I had to prove something," Sale told reporters. "So I felt, part of me felt I had to come in and say 'hey, this is what you're getting.'" The left-hander said there's a different plan in place this year. Sale's reduced the amount of throws made during the offseason and will continue in that same vein in spring training.
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