Alex Cora was watching, carefully, two sets of numbers as Chris Sale kept overpowering the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night: the 'K' cards being displayed by fans in the center field bleachers, and more ominously, Sale's climbing pitch count on the center field scoreboard.
Sooner or later, something was going to have to give.
"First time I've been in something like that,'' Cora would say later, "watching the strikeouts and watching the pitch count.''
It was a constant tug at Cora's emotions. On the one hand, Sale was utterly and completely dominant. He fanned the first six hitters of the night and eight of the first nine. He didn't allow a baserunner until the fifth and after he struck out the side in the sixth, the Rockies had put the ball in play five times and just twice did they manage to get the ball out of the infield.
Sale's combination of mid-90s fastball, sweeping slider ("probably the best it's ever been,'' Sale said) and changeup was too much for the Rockies.
So Cora watched and fidgeted, knowing a reckoning was, at some point, inevitable.