THURSDAY NIGHT really couldn’t have gone any better for the New England sports fan.

While Chris Sale was showing the world what Chris Sale is capable of doing when he’s right, the Patriots were playing a near-perfect preseason opener in Detroit.

Now, whether or not Thursday’s Sale gem will do anything to get a Red Sox charge started is unknown. And the Patriots were playing an exhibition game. But this was a good night for the fans around here.

Sale struck out 13, didn’t walk anyone and gave up one legitimate hit in eight innings — as the Sox won in a time of 2:16. They followed that with a 16-4 romp on Friday. The latest tease or could they be starting something?

Sale? How does the skinny lefty affect the Red Sox? Sale has a 6.42 ERA in 15 Sox losses with him on the mound, a 1.67 in nine Boston wins.

In Detroit, the Pats, with Tom Brady watching, were terrific as the drive for a seventh title began. It was a night for the backups but plenty of impressive stuff from the defending champs.

Nifty debut

The game marked the debut of rookie QB Jarrett Stidham, who has already opened some eyes.

Asked Friday if the debut was “a representation of his overall ability,” Bill Belichick said, “I think there were several plays that (spanned) all of the categories really. Quick throws where the read was clear and the receiver was open and then maybe a secondary read, and then there were a couple of times where he scrambled and extended the play. He ran a couple times and completed a pass to –- I think it might have been the tight end, (Andrew) Beck or (Ryan) Izzo –- but anyway, there was a little bit of everything there.

“The most important thing for the quarterback is not to turn the ball over, make good decisions, and throw accurately, so he did all of those at times.”

“He’s definitely confident,” said wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. “He made an impression. “There aren’t a lot of non-confident quarterbacks who make it in this league, especially with this organization. They wouldn’t have brought him in if he wasn’t. He definitely wouldn’t last long.”

With everyone monitoring every move Brady makes with his future uncertain after this season, a funny side-by-side set of videos showed TB12 whooping it up after a Brian Hoyer touchdown and looking ahead stoically when the kid delivered –- as if Brady is worried about Stidham phasing him out.

Interesting side note on the game: Belichick didn’t elect to use the new pass interference challenge on two occasions. He said, “It’s just… I don’t know. Maybe I’ve got to get used to the new rules.

Honest enough.

A look around

With Mookie Betts (not shockingly) having already turned down eight years and $200 million, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported Friday the Red Sox will listen to trade offers for Betts during the offseason. Makes sense. …

Dustin Pedroia FaceTimed his teammates in the clubhouse during Wednesday night’s long rain delay that led to the suspended game. Said manager Alex Cora: “That was epic. He was all like dizzy and he was talking to (Andrew Benintendi) and he said like, ‘Go get ‘em. Score three runs,’ and it was like no, we just need one. Just go back to sleep.” …

Michael Beasley was suspended for five games for violating the NBA’s drug policy. Five games? What was it, extra strength Tylenol? …

Madison Bumgarner‘s single Thursday night allowed him to join Juan Marichal (202) as the only pitchers with 100 hits for the Giants since their move to San Francisco. …

My pals Bill Nowlin and Jim Prime are out with “The Boston Red Sox Killer B’s, Baseball’s Best Outfield” – forward by Fred Lynn. Like everything these Sox historians do, count on this look at Betts, Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. as a quality read! …

“NBA 2K20” includes all 12 WNBA teams. “Just like my counterparts in the NBA, I grew up playing NBA 2K,” says Candace Parker. “After getting myself scanned and integrated into NBA 2K20 earlier this summer, I was amazed at how 2K is able to replicate women’s basketball at such a realistic level.” …

According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, defensive end Michael Bennett stayed in the locker room for the national anthem Thursday night, “coming out after its conclusion.” …

Hard to believe, but Mike Trout finished Friday night’s game with no homers in 101 career Fenway plate appearances. He was hitting .345 with a .907 OPS and has at least four homers in every other AL park. …

The Celtics announced their preseason schedule Friday and the full NBA regular season sked comes out Monday. …

From the great Dan Rather: “As the father and grandfather of devoted Mets fans, I understand the normal state of affairs for this time in the season is fatalism and soul-crushing dejection. But instead we have joy and the growing glimmers of hope. Big test this weekend. Do you believe?” …

The Bruins open with four games on the road – Dallas, Arizona, Vegas and Colorado – before opening a three-game homestand against the young and talented Devils in the opener of a three-game homestand at the refurbished TD Garden Oct. 12 …

Of all the crazy numbers the Yankees put up in their 10 games in Baltimore … here goes: they matched the 1977 Red Sox as the only teams with at least five homers in three straight games. And carrying over to Toronto Friday night, they became the first team ever with 19 homers in four games. News flash: Aaron Judge had none of the 19. …

A couple of things from my buddy Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now: Charlie McAvoy on getting his RFA contract done: “It would be nice. Once it gets done, you can carry on with what you’re doing.” And the Bruins have talked to free agent Brian Boyle about coming home to play. …

The Twins turned a pair of ground ball triple plays 16 days apart recently. According to Hall of Famer Jayson Stark, they are the only team in the last 40 years to pull off the feat twice so close together. The last team to do it was the Twins – in one game in 1990, against the Red Sox. If you’ve forgotten, that game was at Fenway Park in a game the Sox won 1-0. Tom Brunansky and Jody Reed hit the 5-4-3 balls. …

On the same night, the rampaging Gio Urshela hit the Yankees’ 200th homer and 200th double and then collected his 200th career hit later in the game. …

Tip of the helmet to Baker Mayfield for ignoring calls to return to the practice field until he finished taking selfies with gathered soldiers the other day. …

Still have no idea why baseball players, clearly in the best shape of any of their predecessors, are getting hurt so frequently.

Old pal Terry Francona after his Indians won a tight series opener against the Twins Thursday night: “I’m trying to figure that out right now, if I had fun or not. Because I couldn’t even breathe. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. That’s probably an odd description, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But I was almost nauseous.” …

Watching these Blue Jays’ sons of big leaguers (and former Fisher Cats) all arriving at the same time is all kinds of fun and has to be a signal of good things to come north of the border. …

While defending champ Clemson got the No. 1 nod in the preseason AP poll, Sports Illustrated has gone with Alabama, with Clemson a close No. 2. …

The NBA will now have psychological help available through every team. Kevin Love, who has suffered emotional problems, posted, “Very Proud of our league. A major win for players, coaches, and organizations moving forward – also want to note the potential it has to help our players in life after basketball.” …

Sox GM Dave Dombrowski on not improving the pitching situation at the deadline: “We did get Cashner already so it’s not like we didn’t do anything to help our ballclub. And we brought Eovaldi back. We think he’s just rounding into shape and will be ready.” As he spoke, Cashner had a 7.53 Red Sox ERA, Eovaldi was at 9.53 as a reliever. …

The Celtics have four players – Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart — at the Team USA camp and all four have made the cut (Smart got hurt). Even though many big names skipped this trip to the FIBA World Cup, Walker was excited to be there. “This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of us,” he said. “I think a lot of us are happy those guys pulled out because this is our chance. It’s our chance to get on the big stage and showcase our talent. A chance for us to do something new. It’ll be a new-look team. Everybody is kind of doubting us, but I think we’re hungry.” …

The Indians trailed the Twins by 11½ games on June 3 – and caught up Friday night. …

Ty Anderson of 98.5 FM The Sports Hub presented the “Meaningless August Hypothetical” and swapping bad contracts with Vancouver – David Backes for would be-returnee Loui Eriksson. …

The White Sox, who will play the Yankees in the first Field of Dreams game in Iowa next season, followed Friday’s day game with a screening of the movie. …

Old pal Peter Vecsey, still plugged into the NBA scene, quips, “Vince Carter has been around so long he was a throw-in when the Dutch bought Manhattan from the Indians.” We worked together at the New York Post and no one was ever more connected to the NBA scene. …

Long Island native Marcus Stroman arrived for his first Citi Field start wearing a 1986 Darryl Strawberry Mets jersey. The Mets beat the Nationals with four runs in the bottom of the ninth.

USA Today published its list of the 100 greatest teams in NFL history. The Patriots didn’t make the list until No. 17 – the ’07 team that was undefeated until the Super Bowl. The 2016 champions came in at No. 19. …

WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford says it might make sense for the Red Sox to extend a qualifying offer to Rick Porcello this winter. After Porcello won the other night, Cora said, “This guy, he keeps working. Probably he’ll find something he needs to work on this week and try to get better. There’s no pressure on them. They understand we’ve got to do better. That’s the bottom line and for us to do this it starts with pitching and today was the first step.” …

Gregg Popovich, coaching that USA Team and never shy to offer non-basketball opinions, on the latest mass shootings: “It’d be a lot better if people in power got off their (butts) and got something done.” And Steve Kerr said, “It’s going to happen. The momentum is building. People are more and more frustrated in our country. I think at this point, the vast majority of people in this country have had it. Now it’s a matter of taking action.”

In the new book, “Mantle: The Best There Ever Was,” Joe DiMaggio said, “Mickey was the best I ever saw.” …

The Rams, desperate for fans in LA, are offering a season ticket package at just $31 per game. …

Miguel Sano‘s game-winning homer the other night was the Twins’ first walk-off blast against the Braves since Kirby Puckett extended the 1991 World Series with his Game 6 winner that led to Jack Buck saying. “And we’ll see you tomorrow night.” As my buddy Pat Borzi of the Minneapolis Star said, “Granted these teams don’t face each other that often, but still.” …

The Athletic’s Jay King on Tatum’s claims of taking a step forward because of higher numbers last season: “The ‘all my stats were better’ quote isn’t entirely true. More points, rebounds and assists, sure, but shooting dipped both inside and outside the arc and free throw attempts also fell. Marrying efficiency with volume is how Tatum will make the jump he wants.” …

Trout is headed for his third straight OPS “title” this season. Only Ted Williams, with four, has more. …

Miami’s Robert Duggar became the first pitcher to give up a homer on his first MLB pitch since Jason Dickson of the Angels did it in 1996. Dickson was victimized by Derek Jeter, now his boss. …

Just a thought, but with the Field of Dreams in play next season, can we refer to the many bad teams in baseball as playing on Fields of Nightmares? …

Finally, we give you former Ohio State basketball standout D.J. Cooper, who, after submitting what might not have been his own urine sample to FIBA for overseas play … learned he was pregnant! Two-year suspension. Reportedly, he used his pregnant girlfriend’s urine for the sample.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.