Chris Sale pleaded but did not push when manager Alex Cora told him his day was done.
Cora was not about to risk the health his ace left-hander, even after he struck out a career-high 17 over seven innings. Sale may have righted whatever went wrong during an 0-5 start, but Cora still went to the bullpen for the eighth, costing Sale the chance to chase the major league record of 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
Even after the Rockies rallied to a 5-4 win in the 11th, Cora and Sale seemed comfortable saying the skipper made the right call.
“AC’s got two handshakes, and you get one or the other. And you know which one is the ‘done’ one,” Sale said. “I’d love to have gone back out there, but as I said, I’ll never question anything he does.”
Sale became the first pitcher in major league history to fan 17 in a start of no more than seven innings. Boston pitchers combined to strike out 24, but the Red Sox had their five-game winning streak come to an end.
Sale, who isn’t the most cheerful guy in the clubhouse even after a win, couldn’t help but smile a little after this one.
“I love this game and to be able to have a chance at doing something like that is special,” Sale said. “But at the same time, it’s still a close game. You’ve got a job to do and you just try to hold it down when you can.”
Mark Reynolds, whose fifth-inning double was the first runner allowed by Sale, drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the 11th against Ryan Brasier (2-2).
“You never know what’s going to happen. So I think all of us who were here tonight witnessed two walks, 24 strikeouts, but a Rockie win,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We just stayed at it. Man, it was a hell of a game.”
Sale struck out the first six batters and fanned eight through three innings. He dominated the Rockies with a firm fastball and sharp slider, topping his previous best of 15 strikeouts, which he had done three times.
The All-Star lefty sported his signature short-sleeves despite the 44-degree temperature at the start of the game and had a shutout through six innings.
Nolan Arenado’s two-run homer in the seventh was one of only three hits the Rockies managed against Sale.
“I had terrible timing with giving up the runs I did,” Sale said. “That was the one that got them back in this game and gave them a breath of fresh air.”
Sale stopped the damage with three straight strikeouts, placing him within range of the major league record shared by Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson and Max Scherzer.
“That was fun to watch. First time I’ve been in something like that, you know, watching the strikeouts and watching the pitch count,” Cora said. “We wanted him to go deep. He was amazing.”
Boston fans chanted “We want Sale!” after the bottom of the seventh, but his night was done. When Cora told him he was coming out, Sale used his fingers to form the number 20.
Cora didn’t bite and went to Brandon Workman, who allowed a double by Chris Iannetta and Charlie Blackmon’s two-run homer with two outs in the eighth to give Colorado its first lead at 4-3.
Sale’s 17 strikeouts were the most for a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez fanned 17 against Tampa Bay on May 6, 2000.
Mike Dunn (1-0) got the win with one inning of scoreless relief and Wade Davis got his seventh save.
Michael Chavis, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers homered for Boston.
Boston made it 4-all in the eighth on a pinch-hit single by Mitch Moreland.
Chavis led off the second with his seventh homer, a 451-foot shot to left that survived a video review ordered crew chief Larry Vanover. Martinez and Devers added solo homers in the third to put Boston up 3-0.
Kyle Freeland got the start for Colorado on his 26th birthday and went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking three.
Rockies: RHP German Marquez (4-2, 3.43 ERA) has struck out 59 through 57 2/3 innings this season.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2, 4.53) has won two straight starts and three of his last four.
AROUND THE MAJORS TUESDAY
_ Carlos Correa crushed a three-run homer in the first inning of the Astros’ seventh consecutive victory, 11-4 over the Tigers. George Springer hit an inside-the-park homer in the fifth, and Aledmys Diaz went deep in the third while Houston scored in his first six frames. Wade Miley moved to 4-2 by allowing four runs in six innings.
_ Charlie Morton combined with three relievers on a six-hitter as the Rays blanked the Marlins, 4-0. Morton allowed three hits and no walks while fanning five over six innings. Avisail hit a 471-foot solo homer and had three RBIs for Tampa Bay, which increased its lead in the AL East to one game over the Yankees.
_ Mitch Garver hit a two-run homer and tagged out Shohei Ohtani trying to score the tying run in the Twins’ 4-3 downing of the Angels. Garver homered in the third inning to give Minnesota a three-run lead, but he had to be helped off the field without putting weight on his left leg following his plate collision with Ohtani in the eighth inning. Ohtani had three hits but was thrown out at third and home.
_ Jordan Luplow launched two of the Indians’ five home runs in the Indians’ 9-0 laugher against the White Sox in Chicago. Roberto Pérez, Jake Bauers and José Ramirez also went deep for the three-time defending AL Central champs, who owned a .219 average before the rout. Carlos Carrasco scattered six singles and struck out six over seven innings.
_ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. belted his first two major league homers and drove in four to lead the Blue Jays’ 7-3 win over the Giants. The touted 20-year-old Guerrero homered in the first inning against Giants opener Nick Vincent (0-2), his first in 14 big league games. Trent Thornton pitched three-hit ball into the sixth inning for his first major league win.
_ Homers by Daniel Vogelbach, Tim Beckham and Mitch Haniger accounted for the Mariners’ scoring in a 4-3 win against the Athletics. Roenis Elias worked out of a bases-loaded jam by fanning pinch-hitter Chad Pinder as the Mariners sent the A’s to their third straight loss. Winning pitcher Mike Leake gave up a pair of unearned runs over 6 2/3s.
_ Hunter Dozier drove in three runs and top prospect Nicky Lopez had an RBI single in his big league debut as the Royals whipped the Rangers, 11-5. Alex Gordon and Jorge Soler collected two RBIs apiece for the Royals, who scored nine times in the first two innings. Joey Gallo had a pair of RBIs in the Rangers’ fifth straight loss.
_ Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger hit two-run homers in the third inning as the Dodgers doubled up the Padres, 6-3. Clayton Kershaw allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings to move to 3-0. Padres infielder Manny Machado had three hits in his return to Dodger Stadium, including a 441-foot, two-run shot in the fourth.
_ Josh Bell homered twice and Joe Musgrove allowed one hit through seven innings as the Pirates beat the Diamondbacks, 6-2. Phoenix native Cole Tucker hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning to cap off the victory. Pittsburgh snapped a nine-game losing streak to Arizona that dated to last season.
_ The Cubs were 3-1 winners over the Reds behind Kyle Hendricks, had as many hits as he allowed. Hendricks was 3-for-4 with a two-run double to help Chicago win for the 22nd time in its last 28 games. He also held Cincinnati to a run and three hits while striking out seven over eight-plus innings.
_ Brandon Woodruff threw one-hit ball for six innings in pitching the Brewers past the Phillies, 6-1. Woodruff allowed only an infield single to Jean Segure in the first inning and improved to 6-1. Yasmani Grandal and Ryan Braun homered for Milwaukee.
_ Marcell Ozuna, Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong blasted three-run homers in the Cardinals’ 14-3 thumping of the Braves. Dexter Fowler also went deep to back Jack Flaherty, who was reached for three runs in six innings. St. Louis battered 2018 All-Star Mike Foltynewicz, whose ERA is 8.02 after yielding eight runs over 4 2/3 innings.
_ Wilson Ramos hit a first-inning grand slam and Noah Syndergaard took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of the Mets’ third straight win, 6-2 over the Nationals. Syndergaard lowered his ERA to 4.74 by allowing two runs and four hits in eight innings. Wilmer Difo broke up the no-hitter with a single and scored on a homer by Victor Robles.
_ The Orioles and Yankees were rained out in the Bronx for the second straight day. The postponement will be made up as the first game of a day-night, separate-admission twinbill on Aug. 12.