Things broke the Red Sox’ way with a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning on Sunday thanks to a two-hit by Jackie Bradley. It was just what the club hoped for, looking to salvage a split after losing the first two games of this four-game weekend set against the Orioles but having managed a win on Saturday. It was especially positive given that Boston had Chris Sale going on Sunday to protect the early lead.
But, not so fast. Despite the quick jump ahead, Boston coughed it — and then some — right back up in the bottom half of the inning.
Fortunately, the Sox offense was up for a comeback. Boston tied the game 3-3 in the third inning on a solo home run by Andrew Benintendi then took a 5-3 lead in the sixth when Bradley and Mitch Moreland came around the score on a throwing error by Baltimore catcher Francisco Peña.
A second Benintendi home run in the seventh inning marked the first multi-HR game in the youngster’s career, though he wasn’t done helping to seal the victory. In the ninth, with the Sox already leading 6-3, Benny singled to score Mookie Betts, who’d walked earlier in the inning. “Baseball is a funny game,” Benintendi mused afterwards. “You can have one good month then, snap of a finger, you’re stumbling.” The rookie’s had been 1-for-14 on the road trip entering today’s action.
The 7-3 win meant a split of the four game series and leaves the Red Sox in second place in the AL East as they head to New York for a three-game set against the Yankees next.
Bradley extended his hitting streak to now six games. He’s 8-for-19 (.421) during the streak with two home runs and 10 RBI. Xander Bogaerts‘ two hits gave him a club-best 19th multi-hit game on the season.
Betts collected his 500th career hit in the very first play of the game with an infield single. He joins some elite company as just the ninth Red Sox batter with 500 hits before reaching 25 years of age. The others are Bobby Doerr, Tris Speaker, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Conigliaro, Jim Rice, Harry Hooper, and Xander Bogaerts.
Chris Sale improved to 7-2 on the season in a gritty 6.0 IP performance on Sunday. Despite a rough first inning that surrendered the lead, Sale dialed it up and buckled things down, setting down the Orioles in the second and third innings and working around a doubles by Jonathan Schoop in the fourth and by Manny Machado in the fifth. Boston’s bullpen offered three innings of scoreless relief. It was Sale’s sixth straight win.
“I always have it in the back of my mind, this team can do anything at anytime, anywhere, any inning, against anybody,” Sale said after the game.
Sales’ 110 pitch performance included nine more strikeouts making him one of just three pitchers in major league history to issues nine or more strikeouts over the first six road outings of a season. The others are Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.
The Red Sox have an off day on Monday before three games at Yankee Stadium start on Tuesday. They return to Boston for a five game homestand against the Tigers and Phillies on Friday.