This was one of the most frustrating games of the year. On the one hand, Chris Sale was amazing. It was arguably as good as he’s looked all year, throwing in the high 90’s — and hitting 100 a couple times — with good secondaries. He ran into a little bit of bad luck and that bit him in one instance, but other than that he was incredible. As happens more often than it should, the Red Sox couldn’t get him any support. Dylan Covey was really good for the White Sox, to give him credit, but the Red Sox offense was one big ball of frustration all night. They’ll have to win the next two to keep their streak of not losing series going.
Half of the pitchers duel we got on Friday night in Fenway was expected, and we’ll start with that half of things. I refer, of course, to the Sale portion of this game. The Red Sox ace really seemed to benefit from having a couple of extra days off thanks to a scheduled off-day and a spot start from Jalen Beeks, because he was absolutely electric in this game. Sale was touching 100 mph multiple times with the fastball while also commanding both his changeup and his slider as well as we’ve seen all season. It was the Sale we (perhaps unfairly) expect to see every night, and it was a thrill to watch.
Really, he was so good that there’s not really much to say about the specifics other than The Dude Was Dealing. Chicago was never really able to put a rally up. In the first they got just a walk, but struck out two times. They went down in order in the second with two more strikeouts, and then managed just a single in the third while striking out two more times.
That was the end of the two-strikeout-per-inning portion of the game for Sale, but it wasn’t the end of the dominance. The fourth included only one strikeout, but it also saw only an infield single and the runner didn’t advance beyond first. The fifth was another quick 1-2-3 inning, and it included a strikeout of Daniel Palka that included two 100mph fastballs from Sale. The sixth included one more infield single, this one on a bunt that rolled all the way up the line but never stayed in foul territory. It was also the first inning without a strikeout for the Red Sox lefty.
Unfortunately, for as great as Sale was for this outing, he didn’t find himself pitching with a lead because the Red Sox couldn’t get anything going against White Sox starter Dylan Covey. Chicago’s righty wasn’t as dominant as Sale and the Red Sox did have a couple more intriguing opportunities, but Covey was impressive. His command was mostly on for the entire night and he was working the edges all night long. His two-seam fastball in particular was impressive and it kept all of the lefties in Boston’s lineup off-balance.
Right off the bat it seemed the Red Sox may be able to have some success in this game as Andrew Benintendi led the night off with a deep fly ball out to left field. It just missed a home run, however, and the outfielder had to settle for a leadoff double. That would turn out to be important, because after Brock Holt followed it up with a walk Boston went strikeout double play to end the intriguing scoring chance. They’d come to regret blowing that opportunity.
Covey settled into a major groove after that Holt walk, as a matter of fact. Following the free pass, the White Sox starter retired the next twelve batters he faced. As I said, the Red Sox had some pitches they should have hit, but Covey was really impressive. At least, he was a lot better than I thought he was going to be. Anyway, Boston got back on the bases in the bottom half of the fifth when Rafael Devers hit a one-out double off the Monster, but Covey came back with two straight strikeouts to end the threat in the blink of an eye.
So, from here we fast-forward to the top of the seventh with the score still 0-0, and the White Sox finally got something going. There was a little luck involved here as the rally started with Kevan Smith. The catcher got one right off the end of his bat that just landed in the perfect spot in right field to bounce into the stands for a groundrule double. After Smith moved over to third on a groundout, Sale tried to get a two-strike fastball by Trayce Thompson but the White Sox outfielder hit it into left field on a line for an RBI single. Thompson would eventually get to second, but then ended the inning by getting picked off the bag by Sandy León.
Trailing 1-0, Xander Bogaerts led the bottom half of the seventh off with a single, and that was the end of the night for Covey as Chicago turned to the left-handed Jace Fry to face Mitch Moreland. That almost worked out perfectly as it appeared Moreland had grounded into a double play, but a challenge revealed he was safe at first. Eduardo Núñez came up next and reached on an error by third baseman Jose Rondon, putting two on with one out for Rafael Devers. He would strike out, leaving it all up to Jackie Bradley Jr. He would also go down by way of the K, ending the inning and the threat.
Sale would come back out for an eighth and final inning, and this time he set the side down in order with one strikeout included. In all, he allowed just the one run over the eight innings of work on six hits, a walk and ten strikeouts. Sale is back, at least.
The Red Sox were trying not to waste that, and they were facing Nate Jones in the eighth. They did not do well, going down 1-2-3.
After Heath Hembree tossed a 1-2-3 eighth, the Red Sox were down to their final chance against Joakim Soria and the White Sox. They went down in order to end an incredibly frustrating game for the offense.
The Red Sox have now dropped two in a row and will look to get back on the right track on Saturday. They’ll send David Price to the mound to take on Carlos Rodon, with first pitch at 4:05 PM ET.