That was a weird game with a weird hero and really it mostly just sucked. Chris Sale was electric for the Red Sox first of all, though he got off to a rough start. After he settled down he’d eventually get through nine innings with 15 strikeouts, but the Red Sox still had to go to extras. A big reason for that was that Boston’s offense just disappeared after the early parts of the game, going hitless from the end of the fourth through the start of the twelfth. It allowed Luke Maile enough time to play hero twice. I don’t even know.
Sale was certainly the story of this game, and it was a very, very strange outing for the Red Sox ace. Off the bat, it did not seem like it was going to be a good night for the southpaw. Coming off his best start of this season there was some hope he’d come right in and electrify the crowd, but that didn’t happen. Instead, over the first two inning the Blue Jays were jumping all over everything early and often, and they were making Sale pay. He made an adjustment later — we’ll get to that — and he settled down in a big way after that.
But we start at the beginning when he was handed an early 1-0 lead, and Teoscar Hernandez greeted Sale by smacking a double off the wall in center field. Josh Donaldson came right out after that and smoked a single through the middle to score the run and tie the game just four pitches into the inning. Sale would get the next three batters — including two via strikeout — but the Blue Jays’ aggression was paying off early.
It happened very similarly in the second inning as well, when the struggling Kendrys Morales hit a ground-rule double into the right field corner to lead things off. Anthony Alford then moved him over to third on a deep fly ball to right field, and Maile knocked him in with a single into center field. At this point, things were getting weird. Sale would get out of the inning and, well, I’ll get to what happened after that single in just a second.
First, let’s catch up on the other side of the game. While Sale was having a jarringly ineffective — though it was only two runs despite how weirdly on him the Jays appeared to be — the Red Sox were doing some damage against Aaron Sanchez. Though, like their coutnerparts, it felt like they could have done more than they actually did.
Still, they did take an early lead in the top half of the first, and a theme of this season has been that wins come when the early runs do. Crazy, I know. This time around it started with a Mookie Betts walk followed by an Andrew Benintendi single to put runners on the corners. It could have been a big rally, but they had to settle for just one run on a one-out groundout from J.D. Martinez.
After that, it would be frustrating for a few innings. They went down without much of a threat in the second, getting just one single. The third brought more damage, but no runs. Hanley Ramirez drew a two-out walk in front of Martinez, who looked like he had an opposite-field home run. Instead, it bounced off the top of the wall. Ramirez wasn’t going full speed right on contact, and then when he got to third there was some confusion. Third base coach Carlos Febles originally waved him in before throwing up the stop sign. The change caused Ramirez to hesitate a bit, but he still went for the plate and was thrown out. The indecision from Febles wasn’t great, but the out was mostly on Ramirez both for not hustling right on contact and also for not stopping right when he hesitated. It was a frustrating end to the inning.
Fortunately, Xander Bogaerts allowed us to forget it quickly as he tied the game right away. The shortstop got a two-seam fastball that stayed up in the zone over the middle of the plate, and he crushed it to straightaway center field to knot the game at two. From there it got weird. After a couple of outs with a runner on first, Sandy León struck out on a ball in the dirt. Maile couldn’t keep in front of him, though, and the León had a chance to get to first when Maile couldn’t find the ball. When the Blue Jays catcher finally got eyes on it, his throw to first sailed way over everyone into right field. The error allowed Brock Holt to score from first and León to get to third base in a truly bizarre turn of events. It was all they’ve get in the inning, but it was a 3-2 lead.
Now, we get back to Sale. To say he turned things around after his rough start would be quite the understatement. After Maile hit that RBI single in the second, Sale and León had a chat and decided to stop going with straight signs and giving multiple signs for every pitch. Clearly, they thought Toronto hitters were getting the signs from someone. Whether or not that was true is irrelevant, because Sale turned on the domination.
He’d get out of that second inning without allowing another hit — though he was charged with his first error since 2015. In the third he induced three ground outs. In the fourth, he struck out all three batters he faced, then did the same thing in the fifth. In the sixth, he got two pop outs and a strikeout.
Then, the seventh inning came right in the midst of all this domination. It started out just fine as Sale induced a pair of ground outs to kick things off. Then, Maile came to the plate and continued his rollercoaster of a night. Sale threw him a fastball that caught too much of the plate, and the Toronto catcher took the middle-in pitch and hit it over the left-field wall to tie the game at three. With the way Sale was cruising, it came out of nowhere.
After the Red Sox went down in order in the eighth, Sale came back out for the eighth and got right back to domination. The lefty got a ground out and a pair of strikeouts, keeping the game tied heading into the ninth. In the top half, the offense again went down 1-2-3 as they continued to go ice cold for the second half of this game. After the fourth inning, they had just two baserunners, both of whom reached on walks and neither of whom advanced beyond first base.
In the bottom half, Sale somewhat surprisingly came back out. He was dominating, of course, but he hadn’t gone more than seven innings all year and was at 104 pitches coming into the frame. He got the first batter on a strikeout, which brought Kevin Pillar up. The outfielder, known for his glove, smashed one to the wall in right-center field. He went for a triple, and the Red Sox pulled off a great relay to cut him down. The play was reviewed and upheld, though if we’re being honest he looked safe to me. It was an incredibly close play, though, so apparently there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn. Sale would then get out of it with a ground out, and that ended his night. He ended up with 15 strikeouts (tying a career-high) over nine innings of work without issuing a walk.
So, from there we headed into extras. The Red Sox finally got a little bit going there, when Betts reached with one out thanks to a pretty terrible error by Lourdes Gurriel at shortstop. The Red Sox outfielder then stole second base to give the Red Sox their first real scoring chance since that fourth inning. They did not do anything with the chance, though, and we headed to the bottom of the tenth.
Matt Barnes was handed the ball for the bottom of the tenth, and as has happened far too often with this bullpen of late he issued a leadoff walk. He then got an 0-2 count to the second batter he faced before throwing four straight balls for his second walk of the inning. Dalton Pompey then, at least temporarily, bailed out Barnes with an atrocious at bat that included two fouled off bunt attempts, including one with two strikes. He’d get a big fly out from there, bringing up Donaldson with the game on the line. Barnes came through here, getting a huge strikeout to escape the jam.
We fast-forward to the 12th inning after both teams got one baserunner in the eleventh. Here, the Red Sox finally got their first hit since the fourth in the form of a leadoff single from Holt. He, however, would be stranded there.
Brian Johnson would come on for the bottom half, and he immediately walked the leadoff man on four pitches. Wonderful! That brought up Maile, and of course he did it again. Johnson threw him a low fastball and the catcher smashed it out to left field for the walk off homer.
So, the Red Sox will look to shake this one off with a somewhat quick turnaround heading into the second game of this series. They’ll be sending David Price to the mound to take on Marco Estrada, and first pitch is at 4:07 PM ET.