Drellich: Down on baseball? Sale, Martinez deserve your attention

Evan Drellich
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON - The slugger's deep exhales at the plate before launching opposite field homers on inside pitches seemingly every night. The wiry lefty ace screaming into his glove after throwing wipeout sliders that look like they jump out of right field.

When it comes to spectacle, Chris Sale and J.D. Martinez have given fans every reason to pay attention to the Red Sox. Or at the least, to their individual spotlights: Martinez's every at-bat, Sale's every pitch.

Put the Red Sox' nine-game win streak and their brewing September race with the Yankees aside. Ignore baseball's overall health issues, like a lack of balls in play.

If the Sox' dominance in a top-heavy American League doesn't excite you, then at the least, the individual mastery displayed by Sale and Martinez should. The AL Cy Young winner and American League MVP may be on the same team.

Steve Pearce said his mind is blown talking hitting with Martinez. Sale told his pitching coach he's turning in his Chevy for a Ferrari, and within a few starts, Sale embarked on a historic run that continued Wednesday night against the Rangers in a 4-2 win.

He's got five consecutive starts with at least 11 strikeouts, tied for the best in his career, and the second longest for a Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez rattled off 10 in a row from 1999 into 2000.

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He's also the first pitcher in major league history to walk one batter or fewer while striking out at least 11 in five straight starts.

"If I did, I wouldn't talk about it," Sale said when asked if he remembers another run like this. "This is a pretty funny game, you know? Anytime you feel like you're on top of the world you get knocked right off. So for me, I come in to try to win games, and be a good teammate at the same time."

Through 200 career starts now, Sale has 1,628 strikeouts - the most ever for a pitcher through that many outings. Pedro's 1,600 was the previous record.

Martinez's average was up to .330 after a 1-for-4 performance Wednesday. He's reached base in 35 straight home games. From the Red Sox' crack media relations staff: "Since last year's All-Star Game, a year ago today, has hit .320/.384/.692/1.076 with 59 HR and 151 RBI, leading MLB in HR, RBI, SLG, OPS, XBH (97), and TB (404)."

The Red Sox employ two kings of their respective trades. If a winning team in a weak league somehow doesn't do it for you, if all those damn strikeouts from anonymous relievers are annoying you, Martinez and Sale should make up for your anguish.

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