The Boston Red Sox beat the rain and the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox rode another stellar performance from Chris Sale and a four-run fifth inning to a 6-3 win over the Rays, evening the teams’ three-game series at one game apiece.
Here’s how the middle contest, which was moved up to 1:05 p.m. ET from its originally scheduled 7:10 p.m. start time with rain in the forecast, went down.
GAME IN A WORD
Sale dominated. Joe Kelly bridged the gap. Craig Kimbrel finished things off. Mookie Betts thrived. The Red Sox won a day game for the 10th time in their last 11 chances. It took less than three hours, thanks in large to Sale, who racked up a whole bunch of strikeouts while working quickly throughout his start.
Stop me if you think you’ve heard any of this before.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
The Red Sox scored four runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-3 lead.
Kevin Kiermaier gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead with a two-run home run in the top of the fifth, but Boston responded in a big way, using a walk and three doubles to create a big inning.
Sandy Leon kicked off the frame with a free pass, and Jackie Bradley Jr., Deven Marrero and Betts followed with three consecutive doubles. Marrero’s double off the Green Monster put the Sox ahead 4-3, and Betts’ two-bagger added an insurance run.
The Red Sox tacked on one more in the inning after Dustin Pedroia bunted Betts over to third base, setting up a Xander Bogaerts RBI groundout.
ON THE BUMP
— Sale dazzled again while earning his fourth win of the season.
The left-hander struck out 12 over seven innings, marking his seventh start in a row with at least 10 strikeouts. It’s the third time this season he’s struck out at least 12, and each Rays hitter struck out at least once Saturday against Sale.
Sale allowed just two hits — both home runs — and two walks. Logan Morrison hit a solo home run off Sale in the second inning and Kiermaier smacked a two-run shot in the fifth, but the dominant lefty otherwise was in complete control.
Sale now has an MLB-leading 85 strikeouts to go along with a 2.15 ERA and 0.77 WHIP.
— Kelly struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning. He reached triple-digits on the radar gun, which is always fun to watch when Kelly is on top of his game.
— Kimbrel, who’s been unhittable, struck out two in a perfect ninth inning. He capped it by blowing a 98 mph fastball by Morrison. *Yawn*
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— Betts bounced back from an 0-for-5 effort in Friday night’s series opener to go 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, three RBIs and two runs scored. Betts has been locked in of late — with the exception of Friday — and is 12-for-26 with four homers, five doubles, 12 RBIs and 10 runs scored since last Sunday.
Betts’ two-run homer Saturday came in the third inning off Rays starter Blake Snell. It landed in the Green Monster seats and gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
— Bogaerts’ hitting streak was snapped at 15 games, as the Red Sox shortstop went 0-for-4 despite producing an RBI groundout. The streak had been the longest active hitting streak in the majors.
— Andrew Benintendi went hitless for the fourth straight game. He’s 0-for-15 in that stretch, which comes on the heels of four straight multi-hit games.
— Leon reached base three times, as he singled and walked twice. The Boston catcher scored two runs.
— Bradley had a couple of hits, including his fifth-inning double. The effort raised his average to .192 as he continues to try to get going at the plate this season.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Spoiler: Those other guys were pretty good.
The Red Sox and Rays are scheduled to close out their three-game series Sunday with a 1:35 p.m. Mother’s Day showdown. There’s plenty of rain expected to swoop through the Boston area in the coming 24 hours, so we’ll see how things shake out, but Drew Pomeranz is slated to square off against Matt Andriese in the series finale provided that Mother Nature cooperates.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images