Chris Sale is battling through the worst stretch of his major-league career.
The Boston Red Sox left-hander suffered a fourth consecutive loss to open the season Tuesday as he struggled against the New York Yankees in an eventual 8-0 drubbing that dropped the defending champions to 6-12.
"It sucks. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I just flat-out stink right now," Sale said, according to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. "This is flat-out embarrassing - for my family, for our team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets."
There were several encouraging signs during Sale's outing. He regained his velocity - topping out at 97 mph - and did manage six strikeouts while walking only one. But he wasn't able to limit the damage against a Yankees lineup missing a number of regulars, surrendering four runs off seven hits over five innings while allowing a home run - his fifth in four starts.
"In terms of throwing it was better, but I still need to pitch better. I didn't get results," Sale said, according to Tom Caron of NESN. "No matter how hard I throw it or how fancy it looks, I need to put up zeroes."
The loss dropped Sale to 0-4 on the campaign. He went 12-4 last season and didn't lose his fourth game until his 14th start. The seven-time All-Star did lower his ERA from 9.00 to 8.50 during the outing.
"I think stuff-wise you compare it to the first three - the velocity was there," manager Alex Cora said, according to Bill Koch of the Providence Journal. "The slider was a lot better today. I think he's very close to the real Chris Sale."
Sale is scheduled to make his next start Monday against the Detroit Tigers. When asked by reporters if he expects to improve, Sale responded: "We better f------ hope so."