The Red Sox didn’t need a win on Wednesday. Like, no one was going to die (I don’t think) if they lost their fifth in a row and were swept by the Mariners. West coast trips suck and losses happen. At the same time, a win sure would have been nice considering how well the Yankees and Rays have been playing and how close this division figures to be. It would behoove the Red Sox to go on a nice little run and get some separation back in the division. Crack #analysis, I know. Well, thanks to another absurd performance from Chris Sale and Rafael Devers continuing to show he belongs in this league, the Red Sox got their win and avoided a sweep in the Pacific Northwest.
Since the All-Star Break, it’s been one disappointing performance from the offense after another. Wednesday afternoon did not bring out the best this lineup has to offer, and we’re still waiting for a true explosion to come from this group. Still, they came through with a performance that was good enough to win and it included the first career home run for someone whose name rhymes with Schmafael Schmevers.
Things got off to a slow start on a day without Mookie Betts as the top of the order went down 1-2-3 to start the game. From there, things started to pick up against Mariners rookie Andrew Moore. The second inning began with a walk and a double from Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley, putting two in scoring position with nobody out. If they didn’t score anything in this situation, it would have been time to hang it up for good. Fortunately, Mitch Moreland came through with a fly ball deep enough out to left field to score Ramirez. It’s worth noting Ramirez did hurt his leg on the slide into the plate, but he remained in the game.
The Sox only managed the one run after the great start to that inning, which was not exactly encouraging. Rafael Devers made us forget about that soon enough. In the first at bat of his second major-league game, the star prospect got a fastball right down the middle and he demolished it 427 feet to straightaway center field. The ball just carries off his bat in a way that we haven’t seen much from Red Sox hitters this year. Do not send him down.
With the 2-0 lead, the Red Sox added two more in the next inning. Bradley started this inning with his second double of the game, but after two quick outs from Moreland and Xander Bogaerts it looked like it’d be another wasted leadoff hit. Instead, in a two-strike count, Sandy Leon got a hanging curveball and he put it into the right field seats. Just like that, Boston doubled their lead.
It wasn’t a game without disappointment for the offense, though, as the Red Sox had a chance to blow the game open in the eighth but failed. After loading the bases before recording an out, Bradley, Moreland and Bogaerts went down in order and left all three runners where they were standing.
Still, four runs were plenty considering who was on the mound for the Sox. As always, Sale did Sale things and completely shut down the Mariners lineup. It certainly helped that Seattle had Robinson Cano on the bench, but something tells me it wouldn’t have made a huge difference either way.
I think it’d be fair to say that it wasn’t the sharpest we’ve seen Sale all season, but he certainly had his best stuff going even if he was slightly less efficient and had slightly worse command than we’ve become accustomed to. Honestly, that’s just me picking nits and trying to figure out what to write other than “najfnsdkjnfksjnfk Chris Sale is amazing.”
But for real. Chris Sale is amazing. He tossed seven scoreless innings this time out, striking out eleven batters, walking one, hitting one and allowing three hits. It never really felt like he was in trouble in this game, although he did have three consecutive innings in which he allowed a runner to reach second base. No one moved any further, as batters were 0-4 with two strikeouts with runners in scoring position against Sale today.
Again, I’m not really sure what else to say that hasn’t been said. The guy is bananas and it’s legitimately disappointing any time you aren’t able to see every one of his pitches. In the month of July he has 56 strikeouts and 6 walks in 34 2⁄3 innings of work. I mean, what? That’s just stupid.
After Sale left the game, the Red Sox turned to Blaine Boyer in the eighth. He continued his surprisingly solid run in Boston’s bullpen with a 1-2-3 frame. He came back out for the ninth, but after recording the first out he allowed a hit and a walk. That forced John Farrell to turn to Craig Kimbrel, which to me shows just how much the Red Sox wanted to end this trip with a win. Kimbrel came through with two consecutive strikeouts to end the game.
So, the Red Sox end their disappointing west coast swing on a high note, at least. They also leave with a full game lead in the division, although they do trail by one in the loss column. Let’s just stick with winning percentages, though. Perhaps more importantly, Devers is showing he is capable of being the spark everyone hoped he could be when he was called up just a few days ago. If the Red Sox send him down, we riot. As we await that decision, the Sox will travel back home to Fenway to start a three-game series against Kansas City on Friday. David Price will be on the bump for game one, and it sure will be interesting to see how he is received by the hometown fans. Until then, go get some rest. You’ve earned it.