The Red Sox were coming off a blowout victory on Friday in which they scored a whopping 13 runs and ran away with the win in the series opener in Baltimore. They were looking for a similar performance on Saturday, but for much of the game it looked like the familiar story where they failed to back up Chris Sale with run support. They eventually did get on the board in the sixth and J.D. Martinez added some insurance with a home run, and the Red Sox have now won four in a row.
You know how some of your friends have that one story they tell over and over and over again whenever they get the chance? You hate that story. It’s the most annoying story ever told. For the Red Sox, they told their same story again on Saturday. You know the one. The one that we’ve seen/heard time and time again and they just won’t stop telling it. The one where Chris Sale is on the mound, pitches like Chris goddamn Sale, but the offense fails to provide the support he deserves. The only variation on this story is whether or not the Red Sox get chances and fail to come through or if they just never get anything going. For the first half of the game, this one was of the first variety.
The Red Sox offense had their first chance of the day in the second inning — after managing just a single in the first — though the rally came with two outs. It started with back-to-back singles from Michael Chavis and Jackie Bradley Jr. before Sandy León drew a walk to load the bases. Again, there were two outs but the top of the lineup was also coming up so it felt like the perfect chance to get something going. Instead, Mookie Betts went down swinging and the rally was over with nothing to show for it.
After Boston went down in order in the third, they found themselves with another good chance in the fourth. This time, they got started early, too. Xander Bogaerts started this inning off by drawing a walk, and then Brock Holt hit a weak ground ball to the left side against the shift. It was placed well enough for an easy infield single, but Bogaerts took a big turn around second and was thrown out trying to get back. At least, that was the original call. However, after review he was ruled safe and the Sox had two on with nobody out. Once again, though, they’d get nothing as the next three batters went fly out, strikeout, strikeout to end the inning. They’d then go down in order again in the fifth.
Meanwhile, as I said above, Chris Sale was mostly doing Chris Sale things. That said, it did look like things were a bit troublesome in the bottom half of the first. There, he let the first two batters he faced on the day reach on back-to-back base hits. The lefty got himself right out of it, though, getting the next three guys to end the inning with the game still scoreless.
In fact, he settled down in a major way after those two game-starting singles. After those two reaches Sale came back and retired the next eleven batters he faced with six of them going down via the strikeout. That streak ended with a two-out single from Anthony Santander, but nothing would come of that baserunner either. Sale then came back in the fifth and strike out the side.
Now, we head to the top of the sixth with the game ready to turn on its head. The good news is that the Red Sox offense was finally able to break through. Rafael Devers started the sixth with a base hit, which brought Bogaerts to the plate. He came through with the first big swing of the day, ripping a double out to left field that would bring Devers all the way around from first and give Boston their first run of the day. Bogaerts also moved to third on the throw home, which was big because it brought the infield in and Holt ripped one through the right side to make it 2-0 Boston. Chavis then followed that up with a single of his own off the glove of third baseman Hanser Alberto, and a ground out to the pitcher moved both runners into scoring position. León then hit another ground ball to Alberto that would be booted — this one ruled an error — and that gave Boston a 3-0 lead.
That same score held until the end of the inning, when Sale came back to the mound with a lead for the first time on Saturday. Unfortunately, the longer rest didn’t seem to do him much good. This inning started exactly as the first did with the two first hitters in Baltimore’s lineup singling to start the inning. This time, however, Sale couldn’t get three straight outs to finish off the inning. Instead, Renato Núñez smacked a double out to right field and that gave the O’s their first run of the day. After that, Santander walked to load the bases which gave Jonathan Villar his chance to his a sacrifice fly out to right field and make it 3-2. Keon Broxton then had a chance to at least tie this game with two outs and runners on the corners, but Sale ended his day with his tenth strikeout of the afternoon with the Red Sox narrowly keeping their lead.
Fortunately, the lead would become a bit less narrow in the seventh thanks to another home run from a very strong man. That man would be J.D. Martinez, who got a fastball up in the zone and went to the opposite field with it for his third homer in two games, giving the Red Sox a 4-2 lead.
From here, it was on the bullpen to hold the lead and that started with Marcus Walden in the bottom of the seventh. He allowed a one-out single but that was it in a scoreless inning. The eighth belonged to Matt Barnes, who once again wasn’t as sharp as he has been in the past couple years. The righty allowed a one-out single and then let the runner get to second and then third on a pair of wild pitches. A walk later put runners on the corners with two outs, but Barnes came back with a huge strikeout of Chris Davis to end the inning and hold the 4-2 lead.
After the Red Sox added three more insurance runs in the ninth, it was Brandon Workman coming on to finish things off in what was now a five-run game. The righty did walk a guy but it was a scoreless inning other than that and the Red Sox went home with the win.
Boston will look for consecutive win number five as well as a sweep with a win on Sunday. They’ll be sending Brian Johnson to the mound to take on John Means. First pitch is set for 1:05 PM ET.