The Boston Red Sox finally gave Chris Sale his first win after the left-hander turned in yet another gem against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Sale entered Saturday’s game with a 1.23 ERA after two nearly flawless outings, but he had an 0-1 record after taking the no-decision in an extra-innings win over the Pittsburgh Pirates and a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers. But the 28-year-old was mowing batters down Saturday, and his offense gave him just enough for Sale to come out on the winning side of a 2-1 score.
Still, despite a stellar performance at the plate from Mitch Moreland, the Red Sox’s offense was fairly lackluster once again. A win is a win in the end, though, and the Red Sox will need as many as they can get against American League East opponents.
Here’s how it all went down.
GAME IN A WORD
This one is obvious, but really, Saturday’s contest was closer than it should have been. The Red Sox were given a golden opportunity when Rays starter Jake Odorizzi made it through only one inning plus one pitch before exiting with hamstring tightness, but they still had trouble putting guys across home plate. Boston went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.
IT WAS OVER WHEN …
Craig Kimbrel sat down all three batters he saw in the ninth.
The Rays had a chance to come back in the final frame being down by only one run, but Kimbrel squashed any hope they had with a 1-2-3 inning.
ON THE BUMP
— Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Chris Sale is a really, really good pitcher. The left-hander was in his element once again Saturday, mowing down Rays batters one after another to the tune of 12 strikeouts. Sale did have to labor through the third inning after uncharacteristically giving up a leadoff walk to Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier before allowing a one-out single to right fielder Steven Souza Jr. and a two-out base knock to third baseman Evan Longoria to score a run. Sale also walked Rickie Weeks to load the bases but got out of the jam by sitting catcher Derek Norris down swinging. In fact, all three of Sale’s outs in the third were by way of the K.
Sale finished the day with one run on three hits with three walks and 12 strikeouts.
— Matt Barnes struck out pinch-hitter Brad Miller to kick things off in the eighth, but the right-hander struggled mightily after that, dishing out consecutive walks to Souza Jr. and Corey Dickerson. Barnes’ control looked off, but his defense bailed him out when Pablo Sandoval turned a double play on a grounder from Longoria.
— Kimbrel also turned in a vintage performance, striking out Weeks and pinch-hitter Shane Peterson before getting Logan Morrison to ground out.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— Mitch Moreland had a day, smacking a solo home run in the second inning to put the Red Sox on the board. The first baseman went 3-for-4 with a double (of course), two runs and an RBI.
— Dustin Pedroia went 1-for-3 with a single to lead off the first inning and was intentionally walked in the seventh.
— Shortstop Xander Bogaerts singled in the seventh inning to go 1-for-3, while left fielder Chris Young went 1-for-2 with a walk.
— Sandy Leon went 0-for-3, but he picked up an RBI on a groundout in the seventh inning. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-4), Mookie Betts (0-for-4), Hanley Ramirez (0-for-4) and Pablo Sandoval (0-for-3) also went hitless.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
Remember when we said Chris Sale is a really good pitcher?
The Red Sox play Game 3 on Sunday of their four-game series against the Rays, with first pitch from Fenway Park scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz will be on the mound for Boston against Rays right-hander Alex Cobb.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images