Well, this game didn’t go according to plan. The Red Sox had been rolling as they headed into this game, but that momentum did not carry into Sunday. Chris Sale was on the mound, but he didn’t look like Chris Sale. The lefty had one of his worst outings as a member of the Red Sox, and the offense didn’t come close to picking him up. A dumb game all around.
Well, this one was bad on both sides of the ball. We’ll start with the offense, which got off to a shaky start before the first pitch was even thrown. Immediately before the game started, Mookie Betts was scratched from the lineup with tightness in his left side. Obviously, the more important part of this is how much of an effect, if any, this will have moving forward, but for this game it was a blow to a lineup that already was without J.D. Martinez. The slugger had a scheduled day off on Sunday. Alex Cora opted to keep Martinez off for the day, instead putting Blake Swihart into the lineup. Without their two best hitters — and two of the very best hitters in the game — Boston couldn’t get anything going against Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz.
To be fair to Atlanta’s right hander, he had some impressive stuff working in this game and he had been rolling prior to this outing as well. Before Sunday, he’d allowed one or fewer runs in five of his last seven starts, and he’d allowed more than two earned runs in just one start this season. With a fastball that can regularly touch 99 mph, it’s no surprise that he can go on runs like this even with lackluster career numbers. That being said, none of it makes it any less frustrating that the Red Sox failed to get any momentum at the plate
They would go down in order in the first inning with one strikeout mixed in there before getting a little going in the second. There, Dustin Pedroia started things off with a leadoff walk, and after a couple strikeouts Swihart drew a walk of his own. That gave Boston a two-out scoring chance after having just fallen behind 3-0, but Sandy León struck out — Foltynewicz’ third of the inning — to strand both runners.
That was their best chance in the early parts of this game. Andrew Benintendi would reach on a one-out walk in the third, but that was quickly negated by a Xander Bogaerts double play. After a couple of 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth, the Red Sox were starting to look like they just might get no-hit for the second time in 2018.
That fear, fortunately, dissipated in the sixth when Benintendi came back up with one out and smacked a double off the Monster for Boston’s first hit of the day. After Bogaerts lined out due to a tremendous leaping snag by Ozzie Albies, Mitch Moreland came up and drove a triple into the right field corner, giving the Red Sox their second hit and first run of the afternoon. He’d be stranded there, though, and they managed just one run off Foltynewicz.
Meanwhile, Sale just didn’t have it in this game. As we’ve seen a little more often than many of us would probably like to admit this season, the Red Sox ace didn’t have the same kind of impeccable command to which we became so accustomed in 2017. It ended up being his worst outing of the season, and one of his worst outings since joining the Red Sox.
Sale did start off strong, setting the top of Atlanta’s lineup down in order in the first inning with a couple of strikeouts, but trouble was waiting for him in the second. There, he walked the leadoff batter and gave up a single right after that to put the first two batters on. After getting Ender Inciarte to pop up a bunt, Tyler Flowers came to the plate. Sale tried to get him with an 0-2 fastball after throwing a pair fastballs to start the at bat, but he caught way too much of the plate. The Braves catcher took the middle-in heater and sent it over everything in left field to put his team up 3-0 early. Sale did come back with a couple of strikeouts after the blast, but the damage was done.
The next two innings weren’t super stressful for the righty, getting another 1-2-3 inning against the top of Atlanta’s lineup in the third before allowing a two-out double in the fourth but leaving the runner at second base. In the fifth, thing fell apart. Sale started this inning off with another leadoff walk, and then Dansby Swanson moved over to second on a passed ball. Charlie Culberson then hit a line drive into right field, and Jackie Bradley Jr. had some trouble. He pulled up too late as he realized he was not going to make the catch, and he was in a poor position to handle the hop. The ball got through Bradley and behind him, allowing the run to easily score and Culberson to get to second.
As it turned out, it didn’t matter too much. Ronald Acuña would draw a one-out walk, and then Freddie Freeman put the dagger in Sale’s afternoon. The first baseman smashed a ball off the short wall in right field, scoring both runs on a two-run double to put Atlanta up 6-0. That was the end of Sale’s day, as he allowed six runs in just 4 1⁄3 innings on five hits and three walks with eight strikeouts. It was just the third time since joining the Red Sox that the southpaw failed to make it through five innings.
Brian Johnson came in to relieve the Red Sox ace, and he did escape the danger without allowing any more runs to score. He’d come back out for scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, as well. That seventh inning included a scary moment, though, when Acuña busted down the line for an infield single. His first step after hitting the bag was awkward, though, and his leg gave out in a way that shouldn’t happen. He was able to walk off the field under his own power, but it looked really bad. Obviously, we hope it’s not nearly as bad as it appeared to be on replay.
Hector Velazquez would finish this game out, tossing a scoreless eighth before scuffling a bit in the ninth and allowing the Braves to put one more run on the board.
The Red Sox will look to put this one behind them on Memorial Day as they kick off a three-game set against the Blue Jays at Fenway. Boston will send David Price to the mound to take on Aaron Sanchez, with first pitch coming at 1:05 PM ET.