ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — From John Lackey and Jon Lester, to Wade Miley, to Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz and most notably, Chris Sale, there’s a long line of starting pitchers who have expressed clear anger with John Farrell when getting pulled out of the game.
But to see it from Sale, who looked like the sure-fire Cy Young winner until the beginning of August, as Farrell started walking to the mound on Friday night, was a unique scene.
Before his late-season slide, Sale would easily have all of New England behind him if he wanted to stand up to his manager and insist he’s staying in the game. At one point early in the year, Farrell could be seen in the dugout telling him his night be over, only for Sale to tell him otherwise. Sale stayed in the game.
On Friday, though, after Sale had given up four runs in 5-⅔ innings and pushed his ERA to 4.25 since Aug. 1, he had less of a case.
And yet, the second Farrell popped out of the dugout, Sale could be seen yelling at him, “I got it. I got it.”
When Farrell kept walking, Sale shook his head.
When Farrell took the ball, Sale gave him a mouthful.
“I love it, too,” Farrell said when asked about it on Saturday. “I love it when guys argue with you or they want to express how they feel. I’ll take 12 of those over a guy who’s looking forward to handing over the ball.
“Last night, I know Chris didn’t want to come out of that game and I fully respect that. That’s the competitor that he is.”
Sale blamed himself afterward, but it’s certainly easier to do that when the Sox came back to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 13-6, in the 15th inning.
“As a competitor you want to stay in there, finish your job,” Sale said. “That’s my job. I play once a week. I want to be out there as long as I can and eat up as many innings as I can, save the guys in the bullpen, stuff like that. But I did it to myself.”
Farrell certainly has a stronger case now, given that Sale, the MLB leader in innings pitched and strikeouts, has begun to show signs of wearing down this late in the season.
His velocity has been fine — he touched 99 mph last night and averaged 95-96 mph on his fastball — and he’s still striking out a league-best 12.7 batters per nine innings since Aug. 1, despite his ERA rising.
But Farrell believes the workload is catching up to Sale, and in response, the Red Sox have tried giving him extra rest when able to do so. Lately, that means pulling him early in games, too.
“The command started to…