After struggling to score even one run on Tuesday, the Red Sox offensive flood gates opened on Wednesday with a 9-0 shutout victory over the Orioles.
It was Boston’s first three-game sweep by the Sox in Baltimore since
September 18-20, 2009. It was payback for the Birds’ three-game sweep at Fenway just a few weeks ago. Most importantly, the win kept the Red Sox 3.0 games up in the division race over the Yankees, who finished their sweep of the Twins earlier in the day.
Late last night, the Indians beat the Angels, thereby assuring the Red Sox a postseason appearance this year. It is Boston’s first consecutive appearance in postseason play since competing in three straight seasons from 2007 to 2009.
“Just getting to the playoffs is not our goal,” Manager John Farrell reminded the Nation after last night’s game. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”
Farrell isn’t just standing on principle, there. The Sox do have a lot of work ahead of them, particularly when they return to Fenway for the final homestand of the season that concludes with four games against the tough Houston Astros. Meanwhile, the Yankees, who’ve are 10-2 for their last 12 games, face Toronto and the Rays, with a make-up game against the Royals, in what remains of their season.
With his wife and kids in the stands, Chris Sale made history on Wednesday, amassing his 300th strikeout this season. Sale is just the 16 major leaguer to reach that milestone (the 14th in the “Live Ball” era since 1920) and the first in the American League since Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez did it with Boston in 1999.
Martinez finished the 1999 season with 313 strikeouts, the most-ever by a Boston pitcher in a single season. Sale needs 13 more strikeouts in 2017, just as many as he had on Wednesday, to tie Pedro’s franchise record.
Wednesday’s was Sale’s 18th outing with 10+ strikeouts, the most in any season since Hall of Famer Randy Johnson had 23 such games with the Diamondbacks in 2001. In 13 road games this season Sale has collected double-digit strikeouts, eclipsing Johnson for the most such games by any major league pitcher since at least 1913.
After some shakiness post-All-Star break, Sale was absolutely dominant against the slugging Orioles. In addition to the 13 strikeouts, Sale allowed just four hits over 8.0 IP with no runs, no walks. The only other pitcher in Sox history to do that or better against the Orioles was Martinez on May 12, 2000 (2 hits, 15 strikeouts, also a 9-0 Boston win).
Just Another Day at the Office
Three other major league pitchers this season have matched what Sale did on Wednesday.
Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and Masahiro Tanaka have each worked at least 8.0 innings, struck out at least 13, and allowed no opponent runs and no opponent walks this season.
The difference is that Sale has done that in three games this season. The others have managed it just once.