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Red Sox 9, Rays 0: Sox offense celebrates Sale Day with early runs

It was another stress-free victory.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

For the second night in a row, the Red Sox offense put a big number on the board, and for the second night in a row they got started early and put the game away before it was even halfway through. After knocking Chris Archer around in a little under four innings on Friday, they treated Matt Andriese even worse on Saturday. Most everyone was hitting in this game, but it was the top of the order in particularly who shone for Boston’s offense.

They got their scoring started immediately upon taking the batter’s box in this one, with Eduardo Nuñez leading things off and immediately stealing 2nd. It’s worth noting here that Nuñez was shaken up on the slide into the base, but he remained in the game for the time being. Right after that, Dustin Pedroia got a fastball up and in and put it right over the top of the Monster for a two-run home run and an early 2-0 lead for the Red Sox. A couple batters later, Mookie Betts would reach on a single and then immediately steal second before advancing to third on the same play due to a throwing error. With one out and Betts on third, Mitch Moreland hit a ground ball to second and, despite the Rays playing their infield in, Betts still managed to score. The Red Sox left the first up 3-0.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Things got even better in the second, and almost all of the damage came with two outs. After a leadoff single from Rafael Devers, Andriese struck out the next two batters he faced. He then induced a ground ball from Nuñez, but the speedy infielder gave Evan Longoria no chance to actually make a play. Unfortunately, Nuñez came up limping on the play and this time they took him out. We’d later learn it was a bruised knee that kept him out of action. With Xander Bogaerts now in at first base, Pedroia drew a walk to load the bases and Andrew Benintendi knocked in two with a double. From there, Moreland would single and Hanley Ramirez would reach on a throwing error and the Red Sox suddenly had put five runs on the board. They also successfully knocked Andriese out of the game before the second inning even ended. Boston would tack on one more run in the third to give them a commanding 9-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Sale bounced back after a rough start his last time out, and for at least one outing he put to rest the fears that he was about to fade for the Red Sox down the stretch. It’s probably fair to say he wasn’t quite as sharp as he was for most of the season, particularly early in the game, but he still put up outstanding results and shut down the Rays lineup all day long.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The southpaw got into a little bit of trouble in the first as he was having trouble locating his slider. When he’s at his best, that pitch consistently starts in the zone and breaks out of it or starts out of the zone and breaks back in. In the first inning, too many breaking balls were starting out of the zone and staying there. He didn’t get hit too hard and he did rack up a strikeout, but he also allowed a single and a walk and threw 23 pitches. He was also being squeezed, it’s worth noting.

Really, that was all the trouble he’d have for most of the game. He also allowed a couple of singles in the fifth, but nothing happened there, either. Sale got his slider going in the second inning and he was able to cruise throw Tampa’s lineup after that. In all, he went six shutout innings in which he allowed six hits and just one walk with eight strikeouts. It’ll certainly do, even more so with the rare run support.

Out of the bullpen, the Red Sox first called upon Carson Smith in the seventh inning. He got off to a rocky start, allowing two straight singles to begin the frame. From there, though, he got a strikeout and a double play and escaped fairly easily. Heath Hembree took the eighth, and had a very quick and easy 1-2-3 inning. Blaine Boyer took care of the ninth to finish off the victory.

So, the Red Sox will come away with at least their second straight series victory and have the chance to complete a sweep on Sunday afternoon. With this relatively easy stretch of baseball they are in the midst of, they need to win series. The Yankees also got a win earlier in the day on Saturday, so Boston’s lead in the division stays at 4.5. The Red Sox will go for a sweep on Sunday with Rick Porcello on the bump.