Sale strikes out 11, reaches MLB milestone as Red Sox top Blue Jays

Boston Red Sox' Rajai Davis (right) is struck on the shoulder from a throw to Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Darwin Barney (left) by Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak, while stealing second base during sixth inning Major League baseball action in Toronto on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. (Chris Young/CP)

TORONTO — Brett Anderson couldn’t have asked for much more out of his debut as a Blue Jay.

Except for maybe a win.

Anderson, selected from triple-A Buffalo before the game to make his first start in a Toronto uniform, went 5 2/3 innings and allowed just one run on Tuesday in the Blue Jays’ 3-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

The performance, which included three strikeouts, no walks and six hits, would have been worthy of a victory on most nights. But Boston starter Chris Sale was on the other side to prevent that from happening.

"It’s a tough lineup and obviously going against one of the top two or three pitchers in the game, runs and hits are going to be at a premium," Anderson said. "I tried to go up there and throw up zeros and give us a chance to win. And for the most part I did that."

"It was good to get off on the right foot," he added. "Unfortunately it was a loss but all things considered, I’ll take it."

Sale (15-6) put on a masterful performance while reaching a MLB-record milestone, pitching seven-plus scoreless innings and allowing just three hits while striking out 11 batters.

The left-hander got Kevin Pillar swinging in the second inning to record his 1,500th career strikeout. Sale, a front-runner for this year’s American League Cy Young Award, needed just 1,290 innings to reach that plateau — the quickest in MLB history.

And the accomplishments didn’t stop there.

Sale struck out the side in the third inning, earning his 259th strikeout of the year and surpassing Smoky Joe Wood for fourth place on Boston’s franchise list for most K’s in a single season. Pedro Martinez holds the Red Sox record with 313.

"That’s pretty crazy," Sale said of his 1,500-strikeout milestone. "This game has been around a long time. To do that, it’s cool.

"I try not to get too caught up in it but I definitely take a step back and look at that and appreciate it."

Hanley Ramirez hit his team-leading 20th homer of the season for the AL East-leading Red Sox (75-57). Eduardo Nunez hit two doubles and drove in a run while Andrew Benintendi added an RBI. Former Toronto outfielder Rajai Davis stole two bases and scored twice.

Craig Kimbrel pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 31st save.

Kendrys Morales had two of Toronto’s three hits against Sale. The Blue Jays (61-71), who have won just twice in the last 11 games, fell to 3-9 against the Red Sox this season and 1-8 versus Boston at Rogers Centre.

Anderson pitched just 22 innings with the Cubs this year, racking up an 8.18 earned-run average before being released earlier this month. He signed a minor-league deal with Toronto two weeks ago.

Not knowing exactly what to expect, Gibbons was pleased with Anderson, who matched Sale through five scoreless innings and retired 12 in a row after a second-inning single from Rafael Devers.

Davis snapped that streak with a two-out single in the sixth before stealing second and scoring on Nunez’s double for the first run of the game.

"I thought he was tremendous, I really did," Gibbons said of his newest starter, the 14th used by Toronto this season. "He works fast, good stuff, his stuff’s good. He gets a lot of ground balls, I thought it was a tremendous outing."

Ramirez doubled Boston’s lead in the seventh, sending a 1-2 fastball from reliever Dominic Leone over the centre-field wall and Benintendi drove in Davis with a single off Ryan Tepera in the eighth.

The Blue Jays had the bases loaded with two out in the bottom of the eighth — with back-to-back batters reaching off Sale — but Addison Reed got a ground out from Steve Pearce to displeasure of the 34,674 in attendance.

Gibbons rued that missed opportunity after the game.

"We had the one shot in the eighth inning where we loaded the bases, still there was two outs, it wasn’t easy," Gibbons said. "But that was our only shot."

NOTES: The 14 starters used by Toronto this season is the fourth most in the majors. … Ryan Goins singled in the eighth to extend his hit streak to eight games. … Toronto gave outfielder Nori Aoki his unconditional release before the game.

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