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Daily Red Sox Links: Kimbrel, Sale, Price set a dominant tone

In the first four games of the season, the Red Sox have gotten big-time efforts from their top arms, including Craig Kimbrel, Chris Sale and David Price. Plus the sputtering offense, Brian Johnson’s first start of 2018 and Marcus Walden’s quest.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Xander Bogaerts is the talk of Boston following a magnificent opening weekend. But there was another excellent sign during the last four days. The Red Sox are a team that is going to be solid, maybe even great, offensively, but pitching is where the bulk of their wins will be made. That’s why its great to see the top arms on the staff do so many good things in the first four games.

It started on Sale Day. (Or Opening Day if you don’t have Chris Sale on your team.) Even though the bullpen blew it for him, Sale dominated across six innings, allowing just one hit and zero runs while striking out nine. That’s good for a 13.5 K/9 inning reading, which is right on pace to wind up in the ballpark of his MLB-leading mark of 12.9 a year ago. He did have a little bit of trouble with locating some throws, as he allowed three walks, but those never came back to bite him.

We all knew Sale was going to be great. Not everybody was convinced about David Price. While I was not of that camp, hopefully Friday’s start had a few of the doubters questioning their position. Of course, one game is an incredibly small sample size, but Price looked as sharp as ever on Friday as the Red Sox won their first game. He may not have been blowing balls by guys (6.4 K/9) but he let up just four hits, didn’t walk anybody and lasted seven shutout innings. The revenge tour is on.

But the pitcher who was perhaps the most dominant this weekend was Craig Kimbrel. While he wasn’t used on Thursday, Alex Cora didn’t make the same mistake on Friday, and Kimbrel straight dusted the three Rays batters he faced.

In that Friday performance, he threw 15 pitches and 10 were strikes. He then threw nine strikes and 16 total pitches on Saturday in picking up save No. 2 of the year. Kimbrel is already worth 0.2 fWAR and he has yet to give up anything but soft contact by FanGraphs’ measurements. Before the small sample size police come to get me, yes I understand this was just a few games, but Kimbrel looks as unhittable as he did last year. That’s very good.

Oh, and Rick Porcello looked just fine over the weekend as well. If all this continues (and it most certainly can), this pitching staff is going to be ridiculous.

For as strong as the pitching has been, the offense has been lackluster. (Nick Cafardo; Boston Globe)

Brian Johnson is scheduled to start against the Marlins today, which means we get to see him hit as well. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)

The margin for error has been small the last few days, but Alex Cora has walked it fairly well. (Chad Jennings; Boston Herald)

It sure took Marcus Walden a long time to get to the majors, but he’s finally here. (Scott Lauber; ESPN)

Losing on Opening Day doesn’t mean a whole lot. You’ve still got 161 to go. (Matthew Kory; BP Boston)