Whatever was going on with Chris Sale in Thursday night's opener vs. the Mariners, Dana LeVangie and the Red Sox are taking the nothing-to-see-here approach.
Sale was abysmal in the 12-4 defeat, allowing six hits and seven runs in just three innings in the worst start of his Red Sox career. He allowed three home runs and saw his velocity dip to the 91 mph range before being lifted.
LeVangie, the Red Sox pitching coach, spread the blame around.
"I just don't think we were at our best tonight, all of us," LeVangie told reporters, including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. "Made bad pitches, gave up too many big hits. I was a part of it. That's why we play tomorrow, try to turn it around."
Sale particularly struggled to command his slider, routinely missing the target of catcher Christian Vazquez and leaving one of his bread-and-butter pitches over the plate to right-handed hitters.
"Yeah, I think we'll have a conversation tomorrow," LeVangie said. "I thought he threw some really good changeups in the right delivery. That's the delivery we want to get back into, that changeup delivery. It helped his slider. His slider wasn't his best tonight. We'll get back to driving the Mustang, not the Ferrari, try to increase deception and all that."
On opening day last year, Sale limited the Rays to one hit in six shutout innings, but with diminished velocity. He spent most of April without his A-plus fastball before turning on the jets in May.
LeVangie suggested a similar pattern could unfold this season.
"He sort of was the same person last year velocity-wise," LeVangie noted. "We don't worry about it. We know there's more in there. We know he's far better than what he did tonight. It's just cleaning up the delivery a little bit, increasing deception, spin, effectiveness of his pitches."
Added LeVangie: "When Chris is right, throwing with the right pitches, right deception, everything works. It was tough to do it tonight."