MIAMI — If you’re looking for validation that wins are meaningless as a starting pitcher’s statistic, consider that six games and two Chris Sale starts into the 2018 season, he is the only member of the Boston Red Sox rotation with a zero in that column.

And the Red Sox are 5-1.

After allowing one run in a short (for him) start of five innings, Sale got a no-decision in Tuesday night’s 13-inning, 4-2 victory over the Marlins.

In Game 1, he got another no-decision when he allowed no runs and just one hit in six innings.

So far, the Red Sox rotation has a 4-0 record with a 1.03 ERA.

It would be nice for Sale to pick up a win one of these days.


But it’s not essential.

“We’ve obviously been mostly pitching deep into games, leaving runs off the board, leaving our offense a good chance to either stay where they’re at or tack on and handing the ball over to a darn good bullpen to keep it where it’s at,” Sale said. “I guess I’m on the island all by myself still, but hopefully we’ll get over that hump next time.”

Sale was not in superhero form on Tuesday, but he very much resembled the ace he’s been for nearly all of his Red Sox career.

After the game, the tone of the questions verged on funereal as if Sale had to justify allowing a run in five innings of work.

How could he?

“I was only out there for five innings – first inning, lot of deep counts, I didn’t do myself any favors, too,” Sale said. “I don’t know what it was, but I felt like I didn’t throw a lot of first-pitch strikes, felt like I was 2-0 to a lot of guys, fastball command was a little spotty, they were fouling pitches off, they were seeing it deep, and they did what they had to do to get the pitch count up.”


Sale threw first-pitch strikes to only nine of the 18 batters he faced, and he had to deal with five 2-0 counts.

But while the end result showed he did not walk a batter and allowed five hits – four singles, one double – and struck out six, the start did not have the sparkle of a usual Sale outing.

“Either make them hit it in play or try not to make them hit it at all, honestly,” Sale said of what he did to adjust. “It’s tough, especially when you’re kind of firing everything you’ve got, fastballs in and out, breaking balls, changeups, and they seem to be fouling everything off. Just kind of hoping the next one is the end of it.”

Manager Alex Cora decided after five innings that with Sale’s pitch count at 93, there was little point in keeping him in.

“He gave us a chance to win, but it was a grind,” Cora said. “I didn’t want to push it. Full bullpen. I didn’t think it would go that long, but we felt good about the bullpen, so that’s why we pulled him out.”

The last time Sale pitched in Miami, the game didn’t count, but that hardly mattered. He started the 2017 All-Star Game for the American League and pitched two innings, striking out two and allowing three hits, all singles. He didn’t get the decision (Craig Kimbrel did), but the AL wound up winning the game anyway.

Against the Marlins, it was the same result, and the game mattered.

These days, with this rotation and a winless Sale, that’s all that matters.

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