BUFFALO — Chris Sale will make his next rehab start Sunday at Portland.
The lefthander tossed 3⅔ hitless innings for the Sea Dogs Tuesday, striking out six and walking a batter. Overall, the reports that manager Alex Cora got on Sale were very encouraging.
“He was a little bit off mechanically early on,” Cora said before the Red Sox defeated the Blue Jays, 7-4. “And that’s part of the progression right now, but he settled down. Everybody is very happy with the way that the outing went.”
Sale threw 49 pitches and 34 for strikes, topping out at 98 miles per hour. Last week, Sale tossed three innings (39 pitches) in the Florida Complex League. Cora said he’s happy with Sale’s progression to this point.
“Everybody’s excited with what we saw yesterday,” Cora said. “I’m happier with the way he reacted today. Hopefully, we keep progressing the way it should be and he’ll join us whenever he’s ready.”
Verdugo does not start
Alex Verdugo didn’t start against lefthander Robbie Ray. With the exception of Rafael Devers, Cora wanted to stack the lineup with all righties against Ray. Heading into Wednesday’s contest, lefties were hitting just .165/.208/.308 against him.
Verdugo has hit lefties well in the past, but has just a .195 batting average against them this year. He’s struggled some, in general, as of late. Since the start of June, Verdugo has a .250 batting average and just a .686 slugging mark. According to Cora, though, Verdugo not being in the lineup has nothing to do with his recent skid.
“I know it’s more about Ray,” Cora said. “Let’s put all those righties there with Rafi and see where it takes us.”
Verdugo did enter the game when Danny Santana was hurt going after a ball in left field in the seventh inning. Santana exited with a left groin strain. Cora said a stint on the IL is likely.
Dalbec back in
Bobby Dalbec was back in the lineup Wednesday, playing first and batting eighth. He went 1 for 4 with a double. Dalbec has become a matchup guy for the Red Sox, facing mainly lefthanders. Dalbec is hitting just .216 with a .659 OPS. He does have 10 homers, but has only walked three times since the start of June.
“He’s got to be more consistent,” hitting coach Tim Hyers said Wednesday. “He’s just a guy that’s got to keep a consistent approach and discipline and be [on time with the fastball]. He’s a guy that early in the count on fastballs, I don’t think he can miss.”
Pitching matchups vs. Yanks
The Red Sox will start Tanner Houck to begin their series against the Yankees at Fenway Thursday. Houck was originally slated to start Wednesday against the Jays, but Tuesday’s postponement due to rain pushed him back a day. Houck has one career start against the Yankees at Fenway which took place in his debut season last year. The righthander tossed six innings and allowed just one hit and one run. The Sox won that game, 10-2. The Yankees will start Jordan Montgomery.
Eduardo Rodriguez will go up against Gerrit Cole Friday evening, followed by Nate Eovaldi vs. Jameson Tallion, and Martín Pérez vs. Domingo German.