When the Red Sox extended Chris Sale last March, it was with the idea that they wanted to make sure that they had him around for another five years for games like the one played Sunday night.
The Yankees. On the Big Stage. With a winning streak they were trying to keep going.
That's the value of having a No. 1 starter as part of your rotation, regardless of cost. They're worth it, to open a playoff series, or, in the regular season, to be the guy to whom a team turns when it really, truly needs a big performance.
But for much of this season, Sale hasn't been that pitcher. There have been brief glimpses of brilliance -- the 17-strikeout performance against Colorado back in May as one example; the complete-game shutout in Kansas City in June -- but not nearly enough.
In fact, too often, Sale has been unable to extend a winning streak or put the brakes on a losing streak.