Tuesday was the marquee matchup of this series between the Red Sox and White Sox, with both teams’ aces taking the hill. That meant Chris Sale for Boston, and he was looking to continue his spectacular 2017 season. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way as he looked human for the first time this season.
Perhaps we should have known something was up when he walked a batter in the first inning, but we were naive at that point. After the Red Sox managed one baserunner off Jose Quintana in the top half of the first, Sale allowed two runners in the bottom half, but he struck out three batters without allowing a run.
In the second, the Red Sox turned it on against the White Sox ace. After a quick first out, the bottom of the lineup turned it on starting with a single by Sam Travis. Following a Sandy Leon strikeout, Jackie Bradley would knock Travis in with a double and later score on a home run from Deven Marrero. Yes, you read that correctly. A home run from Deven Marrero. Mookie Betts decided the bottom of the lineup couldn’t have all the fun and went back-to-back with Marrero and just like that the Red Sox had a 4-0 lead for their ace.
Sale couldn’t keep it together, though. After starting the inning out with two strikeouts, the lefty allowed another walk and four singles to give Chicago three runs of their own to pull within one. They weren’t the most crisply hit singles, but Sale also had trouble putting batters away for the first time this year.
Luckily, he had Marrero on his team. Yes, you read that correctly. Luckily, he had Marrero on his team. In the 4-3 game, Marrero came up with two on and two out after Travis and Young singled to lead off the inning. Rather than kill the rally without a run, Marrero launched another one into the bleachers for his second homer of the day. That opened the lead back up to four runs and it knocked Quintana out before he could even get through three frames.
Sale continued his shaky outing from there, allowing one run in the third thanks to two singles and a throwing error on Xander Bogaerts. Then, in the fourth, he’d allow two more on a home run to Todd Frazier. Just like that, it was a one-run game once again with the Red Sox leading 7-6.
And, once again, the Red Sox were able to pick up their ace and open their lead a bit. In the top half of the fifth, after a first quick out, Travis hit a double and Leon drew a walk to put two on for Bradley. The center fielder came through with a big three-run home run to give Boston a 10-6 lead. Sale followed that up with his first 1-2-3 inning of the game, and it ended up being all for the lefty.
He’d hand it off to Heath Hembree, who is no longer rocking the awful cornrows he displayed back at Fenway against the Mariners. With his old curly hair back, the righty tossed two scoreless innings. Coincidence? I think not.
Bogaerts would hit a solo home run in the eighth — Boston’s fifth of the day — to give the Red Sox an 11-6 lead to Blaine Boyer, who came on for the bottom half. The newest member of the Red Sox bullpen promptly allowed a solo shot to Tim Anderson. That was followed by a single that was eliminated by a nifty double play. Boyer couldn’t finish off the inning, though, allowing a double and an infield single to put runners on the corners with two down in the four-run game. John Farrell had seen enough at that point and turned to Craig Kimbrel. He’d get out of the eighth without allowing another run and shut things down in the ninth. That was after the Red Sox added another home run, this time from Mitch Moreland.
This was the kind of game the Red Sox game we’ve been waiting to see all year, at least for the lineup. They showed power from all sections of the lineup and were able to pick up their ace on the rare day in which he didn’t have it. And, speaking of which, even on a day in which Sale clearly didn’t have it, he also avoided completely unravelling at any point and the Red Sox had a lead for this entire game. This was a good win, even if it wasn’t the pitchers’ duel we were all anticipating. They’ll be back out tomorrow night for the rubber match with Drew Pomeranz on the bump.