The All-Star break is over. The Red Sox are back in action and they just took two out of three in Detroit. They are an unbelievable 39 games over .500 at 70-3 while slowly but surely distancing themselves from the second-place Yankees. Things are looking pretty, pretty good as we dive into the stretch run of the 2018 baseball season.
Here are some quick hit thoughts running through my mind as the Red Sox leave Detroit and head to Baltimore.
-- Chris Sale dazzled again on Sunday afternoon, stifling the Tigers through six innings and allowing just two hits with nine strikeouts. Just another typical Sale Day. With the Sox leading 6-0 after six, it was plenty safe to take Sale out of the game and let the bullpen put on the finishing touches. As we plow through the last two months of the season, it’s definitely time to start thinking about getting Sale as much rest as possible so that his arm isn’t worn out by October. From here on out, they should be avoiding outings longer than six innings whenever possible. (Obviously that will be easier said than done at times.
-- I won’t lie, it was a tad bit concerning when the Red Sox came back from the All-Star break and only scored one run through their first 18 innings played. Part of that was due to Mike Fiers submitting a masterful start on Saturday night for Detroit (no runs in 6.1 innings), but the concern was still warranted. Boston cleared up any of those lingering worries on Sunday though after Jackie Bradley Jr. conquered Comerica Park’s ridiculous dimensions with a three-run homer. Not too concerned anymore.
-- David Price had a nice outing on Friday (6.1 innings, no runs, four hits) as the Sox picked up a 1-0 win over the Tigers in their return to action, but we can’t read too much into that. The real test for Price will be when the Yankees come to Fenway in two weekends. Until he can come through with a big start against New York the questions are always going linger, and deservingly so.
-- You have to wonder how many chances the Red Sox are going to keep giving Joe Kelly. He came into the ballgame on Sunday afternoon in the eighth inning with an eight-run lead, and loaded the bases before eventually finding a way to work out of the jam. It’s not a big deal when Kelly is terrible in a 9-1 game, but what about during the ever-pivotal Yankees series coming up? The Sox still have to play the Yankees three more times this season. Does anyone ever feel comfortable sending Kelly to the mound in a close game? What about in the playoffs? Kelly might be a good guy, but he’s not an effective relief pitcher right now (to put it nicely), and the Sox are going to have to address that sooner rather than later or else it could bite them in the rear end when it really matters.
-- During Saturday’s game, despite losing 5-0, Mookie Betts made another spectacular catch in right field. On a long ball hit all the way to the wall, Betts casually trotted back to the warning track and leapt about five feet into the air, snagging the ball on the other side of the wall to save a home run. Not a big deal or anything. Just another day in the life of the soon-to-be American League MVP.
That’s enough quick hits for now. Onward to Baltimore.