Chris Sale has had a few setbacks as Boston has rolled down the stretch and back toward the postseason.
Tuesday was another one of those nights.
Sale matched a career worst by giving up four home runs in a playoff tuneup, including a pair to Josh Donaldson, and the Red Sox lost 9-4 to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“You can’t have a good day at work every day,” Sale said. “Unfortunately, what I do is amplified because we’re here and we’re in the thick of it. To survive, you’ve got to win games. I’m not doing that, and I’m as frustrated as anybody on the planet about that.”
Threw some bad pitches
Teoscar Hernandez hit one of his two homers off Sale, and Kendrys Morales had the other against Boston’s ace lefty. Sale (17-8) allowed five runs in five innings and surrendered multiple homers for the third time in five starts. Sale last allowed four homers in a game Aug. 23, 2013 against Texas.
“You throw some bad pitches that get hit hard. I throw a lot of strikes. I’ve just got to be a little bit more careful with where I’m throwing them,” Sale said.
Boston’s magic number over the Yankees in the AL East is three with five games remaining. New York beat Tampa Bay 6-1.
After winning six straight, Boston has lost two in a row — a first since dropping three consecutive games from Sept. 2-4. Houston won later Tuesday, ensuring the AL East winner will open the playoffs on the road.
Sale did have eight strikeouts, giving him 308 for the season — five shy of Pedro Martinez’s club record set in 1999. The AL Cy Young Award candidate has a 2.90 ERA with one scheduled start remaining. Sale’s spot in the rotation comes up again Sunday, when the Red Sox host Houston in the regular-season finale. It’s not certain that Sale will make that outing, though.
“I think it’s probably too early to answer that definitely,” manager John Farrell said. “We just have to see how these final five games play out. We know where we stand, we know what’s ahead of us.”
Good one to end on
J.A. Happ (10-11) pitched seven strong innings for the last-place Blue Jays, holding Boston to a run and four hits with nine strikeouts.
Donaldson homered in the first inning for the second straight game, then led off the third with his 33rd this season. The latter shot cleared the bullpen and reached the right-field seats to put Toronto ahead 2-1. Hernandez led…