TORONTO (AP) When his first pitch of the day was driven to the edge of the warning track, Chris Sale was concerned he might be in for a long afternoon.
Turns out he had nothing to worry about.
The former FGCU star struck out 13 over eight shutout innings, Mookie Betts hit a three-run double in the 10th and Boston beat the struggling Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Thursday.
”Powerful, a lot of strikes,” Boston manager John Farrell said. ”All three pitches working. He had such good swing and miss to his fastball up and away.”
At 3-12, Toronto is off to the worst start in team history and has lost its first five series for the first time.
”You look at the names on the back here and it’s like `How is this happening?”’ Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada said.
Sandy Leon drew a one-out walk from Jason Grilli (0-2) in the 10th, and Brock Holt singled to stop an 0-for-12 slide. Andrew Benintendi walked with two outs, and Betts, who was 0 for 3, pulled a 2-0 fastball down the left-field line.
”I was just trying to put a good swing on a good pitch,” Betts said. ”I did have a rough day but it can come down to one at-bat.”
Grilli, who helped Toronto reach the AL Championship Series last season, found it difficult to describe his team’s early struggles.
”Losing only makes you appreciate winning,” he said.
Mitch Moreland hit a two-out double in the ninth off Roberto Osuna and scored on Xander Bogaerts’ single, but Kendrys Morales homered against Craig Kimbrel (1-0) leading off the bottom half, the eighth time Morales has tied a game or given his team a lead with a homer from the ninth inning on.
Farrell called it a tough decision to take Sale out.
”We felt like it was time to turn to it over to a guy who was fresh and powerful,” Farrell said. ”Unfortunately, the second pitch goes out of the ballpark.”
Acquired from the Chicago White Sox during the offseason, Sale become the first Boston pitcher to strike out 12 or more in consecutive outings since Pedro Martinez did it in four straight starts in 2001.
”It’s impressive, man,” Dustin Pedroia said. ”He’s just attacking the zone, overpowering guys with all of his pitches.
Sale allowed four hits, all singles, and walked one. Throwing 80 of 102 pitches for strikes, Sale lowered his ERA to 0.91. Yet, he is 1-1 because he has received just four runs of support over four starts.
Estrada allowed three hits, all singles, in six innings.