Sale 'felt strong throughout' Red Sox debut

Ace strikes out two, allows two runs (one earned) in first spring start

Sale 'felt strong throughout' Red Sox debut

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Chris Sale described pitching his first game for the Red Sox as "awesome." But he wasn't as enthusiastic when talking about his results.

In a Grapefruit League start against the Astros on Monday afternoon, Sale went two innings, allowing four hits and two runs (one earned) while walking none and striking out two. Boston and Houston tied, 5-5.

The Red Sox haven't just gained themselves a premier pitcher, but also a fierce competitor.

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"Happy? I don't know," Sale said of his performance. "We got some good work in. I'm not a fan of sitting here and saying Spring Training doesn't matter. You still want to get results, but I felt good. The ball felt great coming out of my hand. I felt strong throughout. I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. That was a step in the right direction for that."

It was obvious that Sale was amped for this game just by looking at the radar gun. His first three pitches to George Springer came in at 97, 96 and 95.

"That's some pretty good velocity for a first start of Spring Training," said Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, who was watching the game from a booth on the press-box level.

Sale fans two Astros in debut

Sale acknowledged he doesn't usually come out of the gate throwing that hard.

"I probably haven't been like this in years past. But I came ready for this one," said Sale.

The Red Sox are ready to get the Sale era started. Monday's start came on the three-month anniversary of the blockbuster trade that brought the five-time All-Star to the Red Sox for top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

"He's a competitor. Regardless of the time of the year or how many outings he's had, I think he's always had great expectations for himself," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I was a little surprised to see the velocity he had in his first outing, but he feels good, physically."

Next up for Sale will be a split-squad game against the Twins on Saturday.

In Monday's debut, Sale threw 37 pitches, 26 of them for strikes. Aside from a live heater, Sale also looked sharp with his slider while freezing Marwin Gonzalez on a strikeout in the second inning.

Sale worked around a wind-blown error by Sam Travis in the first inning and gave up an unearned run. Springer had an RBI single through the hole at shortstop in the second.

The plan was for Sale to go three innings. But given the pitch count and the intensity with which he was throwing, Farrell called him off after two. For Sale, the beauty of Monday was simply pitching in a game for his new team.

"Awesome," Sale said. "Really good actually. I've been waiting for this for a while. It's tough just sitting around just doing practice and things like that. This is why we're here. We like going out there and playing the game. Especially as a starting pitcher. I have enough downtime. It was fun. I enjoy doing what I do, and I love pitching. Today was fun to get out there and get the ball rolling."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.