In yesterday’s recap, I talked about how the Red Sox consistently found ways to pick up Rick Porcello after he had a rough inning. Tuesday’s game went back and forth and the Red Sox never really felt like they were out of it because they kept tying things back up before exploding late in the game. It took a little longer to come through on Wednesday, but eventually they exploded once again and it led to a big victory to keep the team’s momentum up the standings going.
For the most part, the offense was quiet against Rangers starter Martin Perez. To be fair to the southpaw, he was solid and stayed within his game. He kept his fastball in the mid-90s all day long and, while he didn’t get many strikeouts, he induced plenty of weak contact and ground balls. On the other hand, the stuff wasn’t so good that the Red Sox should have had this much trouble.
Boston actually did get on the board first thanks to a little bit of run manufacturing. Deven Marrero started off the mini-rally with a two-out single in the bottom of the third, the first hit for either side in this game. After stealing second during the next at bat, Marrero would come around to score on a Mookie Betts single to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
Other than that, it was radio silence for the lineup for the first six innings. They didn’t even really give themselves a ton of chances to score, with the best being that same third inning. After the run scored a wild pitch and a walk put two runners on with two outs for Xander Bogaerts, but the shortstop struck out to end the rally with just one run crossing the plate. Besides that, there wasn’t much going on. Sam Travis — making his major-league debut — did get his first career hit in the fifth in the form of an infield single but that was immediately cancelled out when Sandy Leon hit into a double play.
That was one of two double plays the team grounded into in the game, and ground balls were just a general theme. The Red Sox had just six hits against Perez, and three of them were infield singles.
Then, the seventh inning happened. Perez did come back out to start the frame despite being over 100 pitches already. He’d get a quick out before allowing yet another infield single, this time to Andrew Benintendi. After Travis got his second career hit, this time a single on a weak blooper in front of the center fielder, the Red Sox had runners on the corners with one out and Perez’ day was over.
Rangers manager turned to former closer Sam Dyson in the tight spot, and — spoiler alert — that was not a good call. The Red Sox unleashed hell on the right-handed reliever, starting with back-to-back singles from pinch hitters Mitch Moreland and Josh Rutledge. Make sure to give John Farrell plenty of credit for those two moves, as they paid huge dividends in this one. Those led to two runs and the game was tied just like that. After an intentional walk to load the bases, Dyson threw a wild pitch to allow another run. From there, the Red Sox went single, ground-rule double, intentional walk, walk and Dyson’s night was over. The score was 7-3 at that point, and there was still only one out. The Red Sox would score one more before the inning mercifully ended, but that was that.
This was good news for Sale, who finally got a little bit of run support. For the first few innings, it didn’t really look like he’d need it. The Red Sox ace was perfect the first time through the order with four strikeouts to his name. After his offense gave him the 1-0 lead, though, he started to look a little bit shaky.
Sale started off the fourth by allowing a free pass to Delino DeShields Jr., who would move over to second base on a passed ball. It was another lazy backhand attempt by Sandy Leon behind the plate, but it was also a badly missed spot by Sale. He was starting to lose his control. He’d bear down and get three quick outs to end the inning, but one of the outs was a deep fly ball that scored the game-tying run.
In the fifth, things got worse. After starting things off with a strikeout, Sale got two strikes on Mike Napoli. As we all know, Napoli has been known to strike out a time or two. Sale tried to get him on a high fastball, but left the ball down just enough for the 2013 champion to get his bat on the ball and send it into the Monster Seats. After that, he allowed a double to Ryan Rua and a single to Joey Gallo, and the Rangers all of a sudden had a 3-1 lead.
Overall, it was a fine start for Sale. He did allow another run in the eighth before being lifted, and he didn’t get the record for consecutive games with double-digit strikeouts — he had six — but if this is a bad outing for Sale then the Red Sox have a special pitcher on their hands. But, I think we all already knew that.
The Red Sox now find themselves one game out of second place in the division. It is, in my opinion, still far too early to be looking at the standings, but this is an encouraging fact given how lackluster the team has looked this year. The last two games in particular have been fun to watch, with the offense coming through when their pitchers have needed them to. They’ll come back out tomorrow night looking for a sweep of the red-hot Rangers.