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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.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.