This was as easy as we all hoped it would be, as the Red Sox made quick work of the Royals in their first game of this series. The offense exploded early on for eight runs over the first two innings and the game was pretty much in the books at that point. All that was left was to enjoy Chris Sale, and Boston’s ace gave us plenty to enjoy. We also got to see Tyler Thornburg’s debut, which was....fine. All in all, it was a cool Friday.
This one was essentially over before it began, and both sides of the Red Sox were on display for the series opener in Kansas City. We’ll start with the offense, because they took the field first which means they had the first crack at exploding. It certainly helped that they were going up against an older, washed-up righty against whom they scored eight runs back in May. It also helps that they are super talented with the bats and have a whole lot of explosive talent.
It was abundantly clear right away that Jason Hammel did not have anything working for him in this game, a fact that Jerry Remy was sure to point out as often as possible. Like I said, the Red Sox didn’t waste time getting on the board to get Sale some run support. Mookie Betts led off the game, and as he’s done so often this year he led off with a bang. Hammel tossed Boston’s star a fastball up in the zone over the middle of the plate and Betts smoked it out to left field for a leadoff solo shot.
After Andrew Benintendi hit a 400+ foot flyout, the Red Sox put forth a more traditional rally. J.D. Martinez ripped a single, and Steve Pearce followed it up with another single, this one of the infield variety. A Xander Bogaerts walk would load the bases, and Brock Holt singled to score two more runs. Sandy León would then come up a couple batters later for a two-out, RBI single and the Red Sox left the first with four runs on the board.
They did not relent when Hammel was brought back out for the second, and that’s when the power really went on display. This time Benintendi was able to get himself a hit, and Martinez followed it up with yet another blast. This time he got a fastball up and away and he poked it the other way for his 27th homer of 2018. Pearce didn’t miss a home run by much, but instead settled for a double off the base of the wall, but Bogaerts followed it up with one. The shortstop got an 0-2 slider that hung right down the middle of the plate and he crushed it for a two-run shot of his own. Just like that, the Red Sox had an 8-0 lead just 1 1⁄2 innings into the ballgame.
Hammel didn’t get to come out for a third inning, and Boston’s offense slowed way down after he left. Burch Smith came on in relief and the Red Sox managed only two baserunners over the next four innings, and one was immediately cancelled out on a double play. Of course, it wasn’t a major concern because they had already, ya know, exploded for eight runs.
Meanwhile, Sale was dominating like he has so much of late, never mind his entire career. The Royals don’t present a huge challenge with their lineup, but that doesn’t mean the Red Sox ace was going to take it easy on Friday night. He was consistently pumping 98 and 99 mph fastballs with the best version of his slider. Kansas City had no answers.
In the first, there were no complications whatsoever as the top of the Royals order went down 1-2-3 with the second and third batters succumbing to strike three on sliders. The second gave Sale the most trouble of his night. There, he allowed a double, a walk and a single to give the Royals a run. He also threw a lot of pitches, with his pitch count over 40 by the end of the frame. It seemed like there was a chance it could be a relatively short outing for the lefty.
Instead, he came back firing for the rest of his start. The third was a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. The fourth included another single, but it also included three strikeouts around it. That gave him ten strikeouts through four innings. He didn’t record any K’s in the fifth, but it was another 1-2-3 inning. Finally, he came out for the sixth and worked around a one-out single with two strikeouts. That ended his night and he allowed just the one run in six innings with 12 strikeouts. Pretty good!
Things got interesting in the seventh, largely because of who took the mound for the Red Sox. Tyler Thornburg was called upon for his first appearance with the club after being acquired prior to the 2017 season, and it got off to a shaky start. He began his Red Sox career by allowing a triple to Lucas Duda, though to be fair it likely would have been a double if Betts hadn’t attempted a diving catch. Either way, a couple of flyouts and a ground out would score a run but the damage was limited. Not a great outing, but certainly fine for a first time back out there.
After the Red Sox added another run in the eighth, Brandon Workman came on for the bottom half. It was not the righty’s best outing of the year, as he started it off by allowing a well-hit single before serving up a two-run shot to Mike Moustakas. He’d get three straight outs after that, though, and the Red Sox still had a five-run lead.
Boston would add a tenth run to their total in the ninth, Hector Velazquez handled the ninth. He would give up one run on a couple of singles with defensive indifference mixed in. That was it, though, and the Red Sox picked up the easy win.
So, with four wins in a row under their belt the Red Sox will look to keep the good times rolling with David Price on the mound going up against Brad Keller. First pitch is at 7:15 PM ET.