After dropping the first game of the series with the Rays, the Red Sox bounced back Saturday to even things up with 6-3 win.
Saturday’s game, originally scheduled for 7:10 PM, got underway early instead to beat the rain that’s headed this way. The 1:10 PM start time, however, didn’t change Chris Sale‘s plan for dominating the game. Sale worked 7.0 strong innings, allowing just two hits (albeit home runs), walking two and striking out twelve. He has now gone to at least seven innings in all but one of his eight starts this season.
The home runs Sale allowed were the 116th and 117th of his career but just the 9th and 10th given up to lefty batters.
Most galling to Sale, it seemed, was Kevin Kiermaier‘s two-run, fifth inning blast that gave up Boston’s 2-1 lead and came on an 0-2 count. “It’s not what I’m looking for, especially against lefties,” Sale said after the game “One of them was 0-2, that’s about as bad as it gets.” Indeed, it was the first ever 0-2 home run allowed to a lefty in Sale’s career. He hadn’t allowed an 0-2 home run to any batter since Mike Aviles managed one on September 7, 2015 with the Indians.
Sox Come Right Back
But Boston’s offense got back into gear today, immediately erasing the deficit in the bottom of that same inning. As importantly, the offense came from the bottom of the order starting with a Sandy León walk and three straight doubles by Jackie Bradley, Deven Marrero, and Mookie Betts. Xander Bogaerts then drove in Betts, who had already homered in the 3rd inning of the game. By the end of the fifth it was a 6-3 Red Sox lead.
Sale went back to the mound for a couple innings, finishing the day with 7.0 IP of work and 12 strikeouts, including at least one for every Rays starter. Joe Kelly, working in relief, supplied another solid inning. Kelly has not allowed an earned run over his last 16.2 innings (15 games) at Fenway dating to last September 13. Craig Kimbrel closed things down with his 11th save of the season. Both added two more strikeouts to the team tally.
In all, it would be the third Red Sox game this season with 15+ opponent strikeouts. Only the Mets have more such games (4).
Afterwards, Manager John Farrell said Sale is consistent: “[Today was] almost a carbon copy of each of the six previous starts, with the exception of a couple pitches that leave the ballpark.” Farrell said Sale’s blueprint for success is simple, “A lot swing and miss, competitive, quick pace, deep into games, it’s a blueprint of the other six starts.”
Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley’s 2-for-3 day with a walk and a double had to feel good. Bradley was just 3-for-27 (.111) in May before today and had been left out of three games in favor of the hot-hitting Chris Young. “I thought one of the more encouraging swings of the day,” Farrell said post-game, “was the double the [Bradley] hit down the left field line…Hopefully, as he gains a little personal momentum, it changes the dynamic of the bottom third of the order.”
Andrew Benintenti, 0-for-3 today with a walk, is now hitless in his last 15 at-bats. His AVG is still at .302 after reaching .339 on the just-completed road trip where we was 10-for-28 (.357) with three doubles and seven runs batted in.