BOSTON (AP) — Chris Sale wanted to take it all in. He has a new outlook on his big league career.
Bolstered by Sale’s first major league appearance in two years, the Boston Red Sox hit five homers while pounding Baltimore 16-2 on Saturday, handing the Orioles their 10th straight loss.
“When I stepped out of the dugout, I knew there was going to be something, I wasn’t expecting all that,” Sale said. “I was just trying to soak in moments. This isn’t going to last forever.”
The 32-year-old Sale completed his return from Tommy John surgery by pitching five innings, giving up two runs on consecutive homers by Austin Hays and Trey Mancini in the third. Relying mostly on his sharp slider, the lanky left-hander struck out eight and walked none.
“Today was a special day for me and a lot of other people,” he said. “Like I said, this game was ripped out of my hands. I had a hole in my chest for two years. I’ll be completely honest, I took days for granted. … Through all of this I’ve had a huge perspective change. I can tell you one thing, I’m not wasting another day of my big league career.”
Rafael Devers got Boston off to a fast start with a three-run homer in the first against Jorge López (3-13). J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer and Bobby Dalbec added a solo shot during a seven-run fifth inning — right after Sale left to a loud ovation.
Dalbec hit his second solo homer an inning later, and Hunter Renfroe connected in the eighth.
When Sale (1-0) finished the fifth, he was greeted with a handshake, then a hug from manager Alex Cora.
“It was a good feeling, man” Cora said. “I haven’t had that feeling in a while. I know ’19 was a grind for him, spring training through the season, it was really hard. … I will never forget that moment when we got back to the clubhouse (today).”
Sale last pitched in the majors when he started on Aug. 13, 2019. The seven-time All-Star had surgery on his 31st birthday — March 30, 2020 — and missed last year’s pandemic-shortened season.
Sale’s return created an electric atmosphere on a steamy afternoon. Many of the fans were on their feet when Hays foul-tipped Sale’s 94.2 mph first pitch.
“He was amazing. He was great,” Cora said. “Today was a special day for this organization, what he went through, him grinding through the the whole process and not feeling good about himself because he wasn’t able to contribute for the first time in his career.”
Devers finished with four RBIs. Alex Verdugo hit four singles for Boston, and Kiké Hernández scored four times.
The Orioles have been outscored 98-32 during their losing streak. It’s their second-longest this season, behind a 14-gamer.
“We haven’t pitched very well as of late and we haven’t scored a ton of runs either,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “It was nice to see Hays and Mancini hit a couple of homers there. We were 14 runs short.”
When Sale walked to the bullpen to warm up, he was greeted with cheers. Many fans clamored for a good look, trying to get near the bullpen, and were taking cell-phone photos and videos, cheering nearly every pitch. When he was done, he gave catcher Christian Vázquez a big hug before pumping fists with the rest of the members of the team out there and walking to the dugout to a big ovation.
“I don’t know if I felt one step out to the bullpen. It was amazing,” Sale said.
Boston’s first four hitters started the game 11 for 11 with seven RBIs and eight runs before they made an out.
Boston’s Xander Bogaerts made his 1,000th start at shortstop. He went 3 for 3, scored twice and drove in two runs.
Boston captured its first series since taking three of four from the Yankees from July 22-25.
Orioles: OF Cedric Mullins, who has a 20-game hitting streak, got the day off. … Hyde said LHP Bruce Zimmermann had a “training room accident,” explaining he sprained his ankle doing exercises.
Red Sox: Cora gave OF/DH Kyle Schwarber the day off after he made his debut a night earlier. “We’ve got to take care of him,” Cora said. Schwarber was out with a strained right hamstring since July 2 and missed two weeks after he was acquired from Washington. Cora said he’ll be in the lineup Sunday and, after the club is off Monday, play in one or two games of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. … Vázquez was reinstated from the bereavement list and was behind the plate. … Sale was activated from the 60-day injured list before the game with C Connor Wong and RHP Yacksel Rios both optioned to Triple-A.
Rookie left-hander Keegan Akin (0-6, 8.23 ERA) is slated to start for the Orioles in the series finale on Sunday against Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (8-6, 5.24 ERA).
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