BOSTON — Red Sox ace Chris Sale and assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister logged long hours in the video room after Sale was lit up twice by the rival Yankees recently.
With a few tweaks, the lanky left-hander was picture perfect Thursday night.
Sale righted himself and struck out 13 over eight innings of two-hit ball to lift Boston over the Los Angeles Angels 3-0. He had allowed 14 runs over nine innings during his previous two starts, both against New York, but he bounced back with his 13th double-digit strikeout game this season.
“Just getting back to kind of what I was doing to make myself successful before all this,” Sale (6-11) said. “We spent a lot of time this week looking at some things.”
Sale’s brilliance against the Angels merely lowered his season ERA to 4.41.
“This is August, so there’s a lot of question marks for the right reasons, obviously,” Red sox manager Alex Cora said. “At least for today, he looked great.”
A resurgence by Sale would be welcome news for a Boston club that needs to make up a sizable deficit in order to defend its World Series title.
The Red Sox had lost nine of 10 games, not including’s Wednesday’s contest against the Royals that was suspended in the 10th inning with the score tied at 4. Thursday’s game ran without issue and was over in a tidy 2 hours, 16 minutes.
Boston pulled within 5 1/2 games of the second AL wild card with Tampa Bay and Oakland idle.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do ahead, so (we’re) looking forward to tomorrow,” said first baseman Sam Travis, who hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off starter Dillon Peters in the second inning.
Angels star Mike Trout went 1 for 4 with three strikeouts a day after his 28th birthday. Los Angeles, which fell 10 games out in the AL wild card, suffered its season-high seventh straight loss.
“This is a tough stretch for us right now,” Trout said.
Sandy Leon tacked on a solo homer in the fifth against Peters (2-1), who gave up three runs and five hits while striking out eight over six innings.
“I made a couple mistakes,” Peters said. “You get beat out of the yard against this team.”
Sale became the only pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts in each of the past seven seasons.
“It’s special. I appreciate it,” Sale said. “Obviously, with how this entire season’s unfolded personally, I wish it was something else.”
Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun made a spectacular diving catch near Pesky Pole on a ball hit by Xander Bogaerts for the first out of the fourth inning, drawing “oohs” and “aahs” from the Fenway Park crowd.
“I had front-row seats to that catch. It was pretty incredible,” Trout said. “Honestly I didn’t think he was going to get to it.”
Trout turns 28
Trout celebrated his birthday at home during the team’s day off Wednesday. The eight-time All-Star is one of seven players to hit 278 home runs before turning 28, a list that includes Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and teammate Albert Pujols.
“I think that’s the most amazing part is he’s only 28,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “With all the numbers that he has, the age is what sticks out.”
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (left shoulder inflammation) will be activated from the injured list to start Saturday’s game in Boston. Heaney last pitched July 26 versus Houston. … SS Andrelton Simmons (left ankle bone bruise and sprain) is receiving treatment in the Los Angeles area and has no timetable to return. … RHP Griffin Canning (right elbow inflammation) threw on the field before the game. … Los Angeles reclaimed LHP Adalberto Mejia, who pitched for the team earlier this season before being designated for assignment, off waivers Thursday and granted C Jose Briceno his unconditional release.
Red Sox: LHP David Price was placed on the 10-day injured list after receiving a shot of cortisone Wednesday to treat a cyst in his left wrist. “The hope is for him to come (back) sooner rather than later, but we don’t have a timetable,” Cora said. RHP Hector Velazquez was recalled from Triple-A to fill Price’s spot. … 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee irritation) spoke with the team via FaceTime during Wednesday night’s rain delay after having joint preservation surgery Tuesday. “He seems like (he’s) in good spirits,” Cora said.