Rays manager Joe Maddon is credited with developing The Danks Theory, designed to counteract the effectiveness of the lefty’s changeup against righties by…hiding the righties. Against Chris Sale, Maddon cleared the lefty sluggers out of his lineup to avoid unfavorable matchups, but it acted as more of an evacuation, as Sale razed the remaining Tampa offense mercilessly in their absence.
Sporting the best slider he’s ever shown in the majors–which is saying something–Sale racked up 15 strikeouts in just 7.1 innings of work, despite slowing down a bit after the 6th inning.
Quibbles about the Tampa lineup on this day are foolish. Major league teams just don’t get eviscerated in this manner very often.
The virtuosity covered up what was actually a tight game. Matt Moore was every bit a worthy sparring partner and Sale didn’t get staked to a lead until the 6th when Adam Dunn hit a home run to Tallahassee. That actually created a high-leverage situation for Sale in the 7th, when he stranded a runner by striking out Jose Lobaton and celebrated with a swing/head bob/fist pump.