The Red Sox finished off a series victory against Seattle on Sunday thanks to an absolutely incredible day for Chris Sale. The Red Sox ace was once again pumping triple digits with the fastball and was incredibly efficient while doing so. It led to a lot of strikeouts and a relatively low pitch count. Even by his standards, it was a phenomenal day. For a while, the offense was doing the all-too-familiar thing where they just don’t score runs for Sale, but midway through the game they broke out. Mitch Moreland smashed a mammoth home run and Jackie Bradley Jr. had a three-hit game. The Red Sox used that catapult themselves to another win and clinched the season series over the Mariners.
Sale was absolutely ridiculous, and that was obviously the highlight of the early parts of this game even with the lineup’s familiar inability to provide the ace some run support. The lefty had it all working, though, and even by his standards the strikeout stuff was, scientifically speaking, crazy bananapants. The southpaw faced the minimum throughhis first three innings of work, and even having to face an extra batter he was averaging two strikeouts per inning for most of this start. Watching Sale really is a treat, offense or no.
As I said, he cruised through the first few innings of work. He set down the first three batters of the game in order with one strikeout mixed in. When the 4-5-6 hitters came up in the second, he did the same thing. In the third he allowed his first baserunner of the game on a Denard Span single, but he would end the inning by getting picked off and caught in a rundown between first and second. Sale also worked in a couple strikeouts in that third inning for good measure.
The fourth saw the loudest bit of contact against the Red Sox ace, and it was from Nelson Cruz. The Mariners slugger has been killing Boston all weekend, and that continued here. Fortunately, this one stayed in the yard. Cruz ripped a ball into the right field corner that got caught up under the wall and he raced in for a triple that was partially aided by a botched relay. Either way, Seattle had a runner on third with a couple of outs, but Cruz would be stranded there when Sale struck out his third Seattle batter of the inning. He then came right back out and set down the side on strikes in the fifth. That gave him ten strikeouts with 60 pitches at that point in the game, which is absurd.
Meanwhile, the offense was struggling to get anything going against yet another lefty. It’s no secret that southpaws have been kryptonite for this Red Sox offense all year, and it continued with Marco Gonzales on Sunday afternoon. While Sale was cruising, he was in line for a no decision through four innings of work.
Boston’s top of the order went down in order in the first with two strikeouts mixed in. They’d go down 1-2-3 in the second as well, and they finally got their first baserunner of the game in the third. That came on a Jackie Bradley Jr. single, but it was with two outs and he was stranded at first. The fourth got right back to the ineptitude with the Red Sox being set down in order with all three batters going down by way of the K.
The fifth, finally, brought some action. Xander Bogaerts started things off with a double down the left field line. Eduardo Núñez was up next, and he kept things going with a single into center field. With runners on the corners, Rafael Devers had a chance to come through and he did just that, ripping a double into the right field corner. Bogaerts came in to score, Núñez got to third and Boston had a lead, two runners in scoring position and still nobody out. Sandy León was up next and hit a deep fly ball to score another run, and another hit for Bradley gave Mookie Betts a chance with runners on the corners and one out. He got a hold of one but hit it to straightaway center field, settling for a 400-foot sacrifice fly to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.
Sale finally had a lead and was looking for a shutdown inning. He did allow another baserunner, this one coming on a perfect bunt single from Andrew Romine. With two outs, Mitch Haniger came to the plate and he gave on a drive to right field towards the bullpens. It looked like it might have a chance but Betts made a grab right up by the wall, potentially saving a home run and definitely ending the inning with the 3-0 lead still intact.
The Red Sox offense got back to work against Gonzales in the sixth. J.D. Martinez got this one started with an infield single, showing good hustle on a grounder in the hole of the left side. That brought Mitch Moreland to the plate, and he continued to bust out of that mid-June slump in which he was mired. The Mariners lefty threw him a 2-0 fastball up and away, and Moreland crushed it about halfway up the batter’s eye in center field. Just like that, it was a 5-0 lead for the Sox.
Sale then came back with another scoreless inning, this one including two strikeouts. That would be the end of his amazing day. In all, he tossed seven scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts and just one walk with only four hits allowed. Oh, and it only took him 93 pitches. I’ve run out of words to praise him.
Joe Kelly had the eighth and he had no trouble at all there, setting the side down in order. That just left things for Matt Barnes in the ninth, and he would also toss a 1-2-3 inning to end the game.
The Red Sox will enjoy a day off on Monday before getting back to action against Mike Trout and the Angels on Tuesday. David Price will take the mound for Boston with John Lamb going for Los Angeles. First pitch is at 7:10 PM ET.