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Red Sox 4, Pirates 3: Sam Travis plays hero

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Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel pitched well and Sam Travis came through in the clutch.

Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Thursday night was a good night for Red Sox fans, with it not only marking a Chris Sale start but also one that could be seen on TV. What a concept!

Chris Sale is a mad man

And I don’t mean in the Donald Draper sort of way. But, I’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s look at Sale’s actual outing. It was his third outing of the spring, and he was merely okay. The stat line doesn’t look great, with the southpaw allowing three runs on seven hits in four innings of work. He did strikeout three Pirates hitters, too. Of course, stat lines can lie sometimes (just like science) and this is one of those times. Sale looked mostly sharp, and he had his control working. Six of the seven hits he allowed were singles, with the other one being a double. There’s not much that can be gleaned from this start, is what I’m saying. Except, for the fact that Sale is a maniac in the best way possible.

It’s going to be a fun year.

Craig Kimbrel leads solid day from bullpen

This upcoming season is a big one for Kimbrel, who was perfectly fine in 2016 but didn’t quite live up to his enormous expectations. Like Sale, Thursday marked Kimbrel’s third spring appearance. His first was outstanding, his second was much less so. This was one was essentially perfect. He needed only seven pitches to set down the three batters he faced, and two of them went down via strikeout. In other words, the pitcher who was plagued by control problems in 2016 didn’t throw a single ball all night. Encouraging, to say the least. Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross followed Kimbrel in this game. Both figure to play a role on the Red Sox this year (although the former is out of options, so there’s a slim chance he’ll be exposed to waivers), and they looked the part against Pittsburgh. They each threw scoreless frames, with Hembree walking one and Ross allowing a single and striking out a batter. Jamie Callahan came next, and finished things off with two strong innings that included one single and two strikeouts. He’s been impressive this spring, but he’s not likely contribute this year. Still, he’s a name to watch for down the road.

Triples are wild for the Red Sox offense

It was a strange day for the Red Sox lineup, with most of the damage being done by players who will serve mostly as depth, if that. The offense had four extra-base hits on Thursday. Brock Holt had one triple, as did Josh Rutledge. Both of them, of course, figure to start the season on the bench. The former, who also scored a run and knocked one in, figures to play a much larger role than the latter. Jose Rosario, a longtime Yankee farmhand spending his first season in Boston’s organization, had another triple and scored a run. Jantzen Witte’s double was the other extra-base hit for Boston. The real hero, though, was none other than Sam Travis aka the greatest player the Grapefruit League has ever seen. He came through in the clutch with the Red Sox down by one in the bottom of the eighth. His single scored Rosario to tie the game after the latter’s triple, and Travis would later score the go-ahead run on an RBI single from Tzu-Wei Lin.