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Chris Sale strikes out 17 batters in seven innings against Rockies

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It’s safe to say Chris Sale has figured things out. Despite six shutout innings on May 3 against the White Sox, Sale exited the start with a 5.25 ERA on the season. Not exactly the best start. Sale continued to pitch well last Wednesday against the Orioles, striking out 14 batters without issuing a walk across eight innings of one-run ball.

That’s a tough act to follow, but Sale had the game of his life on Tuesday at home against the Rockies. He yielded two runs — both coming on a Nolan Arenado homer — on three hits while issuing zero walks and striking out 17 batters. That obliterates Sale’s previous single-game high of 15 strikeouts, accomplished three times, twice as a member of the White Sox. Sale is the first pitcher to strike out at least 17 batters in a game since Max Scherzer tied the record with 20 strikeouts against the Tigers on May 11, 2016. The last member of the Red Sox to strike out at least 17 in one game was Pedro Martínez on May 6, 2000 against the Devil Rays.

Sale stood at 108 pitches after completing the seventh inning. Understandably, manager Alex Cora didn’t allow his ace to take the mound for the eighth inning with his team leading 3-2. Brandon Workman, who hadn’t allowed a hit in his last 11 appearances, took over for Sale. Chris Iannetta doubled off of Workman with one out to end that streak. [Update: And Workman then served up a two-run home run to Charlie Blackmon, giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead. Sale is no longer in line for the win in his 17-strikeout game.]

After Tuesday night’s performance, Sale now has a 4.24 ERA with a 73/11 K/BB ratio in 51 innings on the season.

Attempting to complete cycle, Robinson Chirinos thrown out to end game

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With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.

Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.

The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.

Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.