TORONTO – When his first pitch of the day was driven to the edge of the warning track, Chris Sale was concerned he might be in for a long afternoon.
Turns out he had nothing to worry about.
Sale struck out 13 over eight shutout innings, Mookie Betts hit a three-run double in the 10th and Boston beat the struggling Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Thursday.
“Powerful, a lot of strikes,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “All three pitches working. He had such good swing and miss to his fastball up and away.”
At 3-12, Toronto is off to the worst start in team history and has lost its first five series for the first time.
“You look at the names on the back here and it’s like ‘How is this happening?’ ” Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada said.
Sandy Leon drew a one-out walk from Jason Grilli (0-2) in the 10th, and Brock Holt singled to stop an 0-for-12 slide. Andrew Benintendi walked with two outs, and Betts, who was 0-for-3, pulled a 2-0 fastball down the left-field line.
“I was just trying to put a good swing on a good pitch,” Betts said. “I did have a rough day but it can come down to one at-bat.”
Grilli, who helped Toronto reach the AL Championship Series last season, found it difficult to describe his team’s early struggles.
“Losing only makes you appreciate winning,” he said.
Mitch Moreland hit a two-out double in the ninth off Roberto Osuna and scored on Xander Bogaerts’ single, but Kendrys Morales homered against Craig Kimbrel (1-0) leading off the bottom half, the eighth time Morales has tied a game or given his team a lead with a homer from the ninth inning on.
Acquired from the Chicago White Sox during the offseason, Sale become the first Boston pitcher to strike out 12 or more in consecutive outings since Pedro Martinez did it in four straight starts in 2001.
“It’s impressive, man,” Dustin Pedroia said. “He’s just attacking the zone, overpowering guys with all of his pitches.
Sale allowed four hits, all singles, and walked one. Throwing 80 of 102 pitches for strikes, Sale lowered his ERA to 0.91.
Yet, he is 1-1 because he has received just four runs of support over four starts.
Estrada allowed three hits, all singles, in six innings.
Astros 2, Angels 1
In Houston, Carlos Beltran hit his first home run this season and Jake Marisnick also homered against Los Angeles.
Beltran’s shot came with one out and the first inning off Matt Shoemaker (0-1), and Marisnick’s second homer this season made it 2-0 in the fifth.
Lance McCullers (2-0) scattered three hits and struck out eight over 6⅔ scoreless innings as Houston won for the seventh time in eight games.
Rays 8, Tigers 1
In St. Petersburg, Florida, Steven Souza Jr. came within a single of hitting for the cycle, and Erasmo Ramirez (2-0), Chase Whitley and Tommy Hunter combined on a five-hitter as the Rays completed a three-game sweep.
Souza doubled in the first, hit a two-run triple in the second and added a solo homer in the eighth.
Indians 6, Twins 2
In Minneapolis, Trevor Bauer (1-2) struck out seven in 6⅓ innings, giving up two runs, three hits and three walks, and Carlos Santana had two doubles and two RBIs for Cleveland.
Ervin Santana gave up one run, four hits and three walks over six innings for the Twins, who are 1-5 in a 10-game homestand.
Phillies 6, Mets 4
In New York, Maikel Franco homered and doubled while breaking a career-worst 0-for-22 hitless streak, and Philadelphia capitalized on an error by untested first baseman Jay Bruce.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia struck out two and walked two in a hitless ninth inning of his season debut after serving a 15-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.
Orioles 2, Reds 1 (10)
In Cincinnati, J.J. Hardy singled home the tiebreaking run off Blake Wood (0-2) in the 10th inning, and Baltimore took two of three in the series, leaving it 8-4 in interleague play against the Reds.
Three pitchers limited Cincinnati to two hits for the second night in a row.
Darren O’Day (1-1) fanned two of the three batters he faced in the ninth. Brad Brach retired the side in the 10th for his second straight save, filling in while closer Zach Britton recovers from a sore forearm.
Nationals 3, Braves 2
In Atlanta, Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer in the sixth that erased a 2-1 deficit against R.A. Dickey (1-2), and Washington completed a three-game sweep.
Stephen Strasburg (2-0) struck out 10 in seven innings.
Rangers 1, Royals 0 (13)
In Arlington, Texas, Delino DeShields had an RBI single with one out in the 13th inning to score Joey Gallo from second base and the hosts beat Kansas City.
Gallo had pulled a one-out double into the right-field corner off Travis Wood (0-1), the third Royals reliever after starter Danny Duffy went 7 1-3 innings. Gallo scored when DeShields hit a sharp single to left on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.
It was only the third game in the 24 seasons of the Rangers’ ballpark to go to extra innings scoreless. This was the longest of those games.
Brewers 7, Cardinals 5
In Milwaukee, Jett Bandy, Eric Thames and Travis Shaw each hit home runs to help the Brewers beat St. Louis.
Bandy hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Thames put Milwaukee ahead with a two-run shot off Carlos Martinez (0-3) in the fifth. Shaw’s three-run blast in the first made it 12 consecutive games going yard for the Brewers, who lead the majors with 32 home runs.
Padres 4, Diamondbacks 1
In San Diego, Clayton Richard pitched into the seventh inning and Wil Myers and Austin Hedges homered to lead the Padres over Arizona.
Richard (2-2) gave up a run and nine hits in 6⅔ innings. The left-hander struck out a season-high eight to win for the first time in his past three starts.
Athletics 9, Mariners 6
In Oakland, Cesar Valdez pitched in the major leagues for the first time in nearly seven years and the Athletics beat the Mariners.
He allowed three runs and five hits in four innings, struck out four and walked two. This marked just the third start of his career at age 32 and 10th appearance in all — and he is probably headed right back to the minors soon.