Ooh-wee, the Red Sox desperately needed to get this win under their belt. The team’s recent woes continued into the Bronx, where the club was embarrassingly swept over three games in the span of two days. Needless to say, it was not a fun time. To be honest, nothing has been fun since the early July series in Oakland. Aside from the sweep of the Orioles from August 13-15, the team has managed only a 16-22 record since July 5th. Friday night, momentum shifted a bit, and everything was clicking on all cylinders. Tonight looked like the team from April through June. The offense finally came alive against awful pitching, with runners in scoring position no less. The bullpen looked elite, and Chris Sale pitched a scoreless five innings. Shall we dive right in?
Chris Sale toed the rubber tonight in just his second major-league game since 2019 and pitched quite well. The lefty was able to pitch himself out of a few jams, reaching back and hitting 95 mph on the fastball. If there was anything of concern in his start, it would probably be with regard to velocity. While he did top out at 95 mph, he was more consistently sitting around 91-92 mph. It is only Sale’s second start back, and it should be noted that he’s clearly working on getting his full velocity back, and is obviously on a pitch count. Look for Sale to continue to pitch deeper with each start, and be more consistency with his velocity as the season progresses into September.
Sale’s most stressful inning on Friday came in the fourth when he allowed two baserunners to reach, only to have himself be given the help of an out when the runner was called out due to interference. A terrible bunt attempt by Texas’ Yonny Hernandez caused the runner, Yohel Pozo, to get between the baseball and Kiké Hernández, causing a collision. Thankfully the umpires got the call right and Pozo became the second out of the inning. Sale pitched five innings, allowed five hits, zero runs, one walk, and struck out eight. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.
Kiké Hernánez really set the tone for the offense tonight, as he continued his torrid pace at leadoff. It’s wild how everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted Hernández out of the leadoff spot after his early-season struggles. What is in the past, is in the past. Hernández is the Red Sox leadoff hitter, and he began tonight's game with a perfectly placed hit down the right-field line. A passed ball allowed him to get to third, and Xander Bogaerts singled him in him. Trade deadline acquisition Kyle Schwarber then singled, but the inning ended with a Verdugo groundout.
Things also looked pretty good tonight for Christian Vázquez, who ripped a double in the second, was moved over by a Jarren Duran groundout and crossed the plate on a Hernández single. The Red Sox offense really broke out in the fifth inning after Texas starter Dane Dunning got two quick outs, only to have Bogaerts smash a home run just fair of the left field foul pole. Dunning proceeded to walk Schwarber, and J.D. Martinez ripped a screaming liner down the left-field line.
Verdugo hit the proverbial nail in the coffin with a double off the Monster, making it 5-0 Red Sox, in the bottom of the fifth. Boston would score once again in the bottom of the sixth inning after relief pitcher Josh Sborz gave up a double to Duran, who would tag up on a Dalbec fly out to right and score on a Hernández ground out to first. It was one heck of a night for the offense.
What just might have been more impressive than the offense tonight was the bullpen. Relieving Sale, after five scoreless was, Robles, Davis, Sawamura, and Barnes. Combined, the bullpen gave up two hits, one walk, zero runs, and struck out six, including Matt Barnes striking out the side in the ninth.
Some will say they only pitched and hit this well because it was the Texas Rangers. Regardless of the opponent the Red Sox, desperately needed a night like this. The Red Sox needed to beat up on a sub .500 ball club, and they did just that. A win is a win, is a win. And the Red Sox sure as heck needed this win. The Red Sox also beat up on a bad pitcher tonight, after being blanked by subpar Yankees starter Andrew Heaney on Wednesday. Red Sox tattooed Dunning for nine hits, including five doubles, a home run, and five earned runs, over four and a third innings.
The Red Sox season is far from over, and the upcoming schedule is rather easy, but nothing in baseball is a guarantee. The Red Sox need to continue to beat bad teams and hold water against better teams if they want to make the playoffs. Losing series and getting swept just will not cut it. If the Red Sox are to right the ship, tonight was a great first step, on to tomorrow, with Eduard Rodriguez going up against Jordan Lyles, is the perfect opportunity to turn tonight's win into the beginning of a streak.