BOSTON — Finally.
Chris Sale had to be thinking it. The 35,357 fans on hand for Thursday’s matinee at Fenway Park had to be thinking it.
The Red Sox left-hander had gone more than a calendar year without being credited for a victory here. Six scoreless innings put Sale back on his feet and gave Boston a vital four-game series win against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rafael Devers crushed a three-run homer to provide most of the offense as Sale and two relievers blanked Toronto, 5-0, on an overcast afternoon.
Sale had been held without a home victory since July 11, 2018, against the Texas Rangers, a barren stretch of 13 starts. His dominance this time out was the perfect reversal, as Sale allowed just two hits and struck out 12.
The Blue Jays advanced a lone runner to scoring position and went down 1-2-3 three times against Sale.
It was the 74th 10-strikeout game of Sale’s career and his 40th with the Red Sox, which ranks him third in club history. It was also the 11th such game in Sale’s last 16 starts, but that hasn’t coincided with success. Boston was just 3-6 in his last nine outings and had dropped three straight.
The pitch mix featured by Sale in this one was noteworthy. He threw 31 sliders and 25 changeups, collecting 14 of his 20 swings-and-misses on off-speed stuff.
Sale still had his trademark fastball in reserve — he blew away Cavan Biggio and Freddy Galvis in the top of the sixth inning on pitches of 96.2 mph and 96.7 mph, respectively.
Lack of run support has been an issue when Sale takes the mound this season, and the Red Sox were blanked again into the bottom of the fifth by Thomas Pannone.
The tail end of the Boston order provided the spark, as Sam Travis doubled down the line in left and Sandy Leon sent an RBI single to center to make it 1-0. Mookie Betts took a borderline 3-and-2 pitch to draw a walk and Devers crushed the next pitch from Pannone to the home bullpen to make it 4-0.
Betts added a solo shot off the light tower in left-center against Derek Law leading off the seventh, continuing his recent hot streak. His hitting streak has reached 10 games, joining Xander Bogaerts for the current team lead.
Boston sits at nine games over .500 on the season, matching its high-water mark for 2019, and improved to 15-3 in its last 18 getaway days.