I wrote after Chris Sale’s first start that, given how long it’s been since he’s played competitive baseball, we won’t know where he is as a pitcher for at least a month. I repeated the same thing on a podcast previewing this series. And I believe it. I really do.
But, man, it was hard not to worry in the early innings of today’s game.
The Detroit Tigers offense is not and wlll not be good. Their lineup today featured just two players (Riley Greene and Spencer Torkleson) projected to be above-average hitters this year. Miguel Cabrera — a man who is technically retiring this season, but who kinda ceased playing real baseball years ago — is still hitting near the heart of their lineup. It was the perfect opportunity, then, for Sale to bounce back after last week’s throttling at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles. Everything was set up for Sale to settle things down, regain his command, and play stopper for the slumping Red Sox.
That’s not exactly what happened.
Sale opened the game by throwing 8 straight balls, foreshadowing what would be a troubling lack of command all afternoon. But! He then struck out the side, foreshadowing the fact that, while his velocity was disconcertingly down (his fastball sat at 92MPH, mostly) he would still be able to miss bats. The end result was a confusing 5 innings of work, in which Sale allowed 3 earned runs on a homer and 4 hits, walked three, and, despite all of that, still managed to strike out 7 Tiger hitters.
So, to repeat: we won’t know who Chris Sale is as a pitcher for at least a month. In the meantime:
Fortunately, we do know who Rafael Devers is: one of the best hitters on the planet. Devers got it going early, with a homer and a wall-ball double, keeping the Sox in the game just long enough until another one of the best hitters on the planet, Adam Duvall (duh), could put the Sox in front with a three-run bomb:
Adam Duvall can’t be stopped right now! pic.twitter.com/tmxm9MMDXz— MLB (@MLB) April 6, 2023
With the Sox staked to a middle-innings lead (pretty unusual for this team so far!) Cora called on a couple of bullpen studs early, going with John Schreiber in the 6th and Chris Martin in the 7th. Both men shut the Tigers down with little trouble, so Cora, clearly a little bored, decided to spice things up with Ryan Brasier in the 8th. The whipping boy of Red Sox Nation obliged, allowing a double and walking a guy in his lone inning of work, but ultimately escaping unscathed and handing the lead to Kenley Jansen, who notched his first save of the season.
- Rafael Devers: .341 WPA, 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI
- Adam Duvall: .299 WPA, 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB
- Masataka Yoshida: 2-3, 2B, BB, 1 R (and, perhaps because he was thrown out on third in the 8th inning, -0.020 WPA)
- Kiké Hernandez: -.135 WPA, 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 E
- Chris Sale: -.108 WPA, 5 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 7 K
- Triston Casas: -0.88 WPA, 0-4
WPA Play Of The Game
Call Adam Duvall the human metronome, because his timing is impeccable. His three-run homer with 2 outs in the 6th inning was worth .345 WPA.
Who was the Red Sox Player of the game?
This poll is closed