Sale eyes record-tying 8th straight 10-K start

Sale eyes record-tying 8th straight 10-K start

Chris Sale will try to tie a Major League record he already co-owns, eight straight starts of 10 strikeouts or more, when he leads the Red Sox against Kendall Graveman and the A's on Friday night at the Coliseum.

Sale and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez share the record. The lefty accomplished the feat in 2015 with the White Sox. Sale also enters the contest with a Major League-leading 85 strikeouts, tied with Randy Johnson (1998, Houston Astros) for the most by a pitcher through his first eight starts with a new club.

Safe to say, Boston manager John Farrell is happy to have Sale in the rotation.

"We're looking at one of the premier guys in baseball," Farrell said. "We're fortunate to watch it every time he walks to the mound. You love that competitiveness. The physical stuff speaks for itself. But I think his attack of hitters has rubbed off on other pitchers that we have on our staff. He's a leader in his own right."

The dominant southpaw totes a 4-2 record, 2.15 ERA and Major League-best 0.77 WHIP. While with the White Sox, Sale won both of his starts against the A's in 2016, allowing three earned runs while striking out 16 in 15 innings.

Oakland will counter with Graveman, who hasn't posted back-to-back quality starts since his first two outings of the season. Graveman went 6 2/3 innings in a losing effort against Texas on Sunday, allowing four runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out two.

Things to know about this game

• It's hard enough for hitters to deal with Sale's high-90s fastball and sweeping slider, which come in from a release point that's extremely hard to pick up. So when Sale starts mixing in his 86-mph changeup, it's just one more thing for those batters to worry about. Boston's ace is the undisputed king of pitching backward with the changeup, throwing it for a called strike on the first pitch of the at-bat 178 times in the Statcast Era, nearly twice as many as any other pitcher.

• A's infielders Adam Rosales and Jed Lowrie each own a .412 career batting average against Sale, which is tied for the fifth-highest mark for any hitter with at least 15 plate appearances against the lefty.

• Boston rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi is expected to be back in the starting lineup on Friday after being held out on Thursday against A's ace Sonny Gray. Benintendi is mired in an 0-for-26 slump in his past seven contests that has dropped his batting average from .339 to .280.

Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area. He covered the Red Sox on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.