After multiple injuries sidelined him for all but two starts in 2022, left-hander Chris Sale will return to the mound as the Boston Red Sox host the Baltimore Orioles in the second game of their season-opening series Saturday afternoon
Baltimore emerged with a 10-9 victory Thursday behind Adley Rutschman's career day, when he went 5-for-5 with four RBIs. The Red Sox made a comeback with five runs over the final two innings but came up short
The Red Sox are excited to finally have a healthy Sale back on the mound from the outset, as he endured two separate stints on the injured list last season. He likes what he has seen from this iteration of the club
"I think more so than anything, the talent is obviously there, but the excitement is there," Sale said. "The drive, the focus (are there). We're very disciplined. I think that obviously starts with our staff. (Manager Alex Cora) holds people accountable, and people respect him. As much as people want to go out there and do well for us, we don't want to let him down either."
Both of Sale's starts last season came in July after he recovered from a rib injury, but a left fifth finger fracture on July 17 against the New York Yankees shortened his return and sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Sale 10-3 with a 2.71 ERA in 23 career appearances (17 starts) against Baltimore.
World Baseball Classic champion Masataka Yoshida, from Japan, made his major league debut Thursday and was one of four Red Sox to post two-hit days
"He'll catch up with the guys that throw hard," Cora said of his new left fielder. "I think he's so disciplined. That comes into play. He's able to lay off the pitches and then will take his chances."
Sale's counterpart will be Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer, who will make his 2023 debut while pitching his sixth career start against Boston. He has yet to beat the Red Sox, going 0-4 with a 6.85 ERA
Kremer was 8-7 with a 3.23 ERA in 22 outings (21 starts) last season.
"Really impressed with the progress (Kremer has) made the last couple years," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "The second half he had last year was a huge improvement. Love where he is right now.
As part of the Orioles' 15-hit attack Thursday, Rutschman hit a first-inning home run before Ramon Urias hit one out himself in the fourth
Rutschman became just the 13th player ever and first catcher to record five or more hits in an Opening Day game. The feat had not been accomplished since Aaron Miles for the Colorado Rockies 2005. Rutschman added a walk to reach base six times.
"It's not going to be the only time you're going to say (positives) about Adley," Hyde said. "He's going to be doing other things that are going to be firsts as well, because he's just a super special player, a really good hitter. And he hasn't even played a full year yet."
The excitement of the game was not lost on Rutschman -- the No. 1 overall pick in 2019 -- who was participating in his first career Opening Day.
"To have that close game in the ninth inning and the (Fenway Park) crowd get so loud. You kind of sit there and say, ‘This is pretty cool,'" Rutschman said.
--Field Level Media