If there have been two constants this season for the Boston Red Sox, it has been Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel.
Boston’s two All-Star pitchers have been dominant since Opening Day, often carrying the Red Sox to victories on their talented shoulders alone.
And so, when both Sale and Kimbrel faltered Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians, it was time for the Red Sox to pick up the pitchers who have bailed them out countless times this season.
Sale entered Tuesday’s game as the front-runner for the American League Cy Young Award averaging 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings while posting a 13-4 record with a 2.37 ERA and a Major League Baseball-leading 211 strikeouts.
But the left-hander didn’t have his A-game, as he was pummeled by the Indians, giving up seven runs on eight hits in five innings of work.
The Red Sox’s offense, however, battled back to take a one-run lead entering the ninth inning.
Manager John Farrell called on Kimbrel to nail down the victory and secure a series win, as he had done all season, but Tuesday wasn’t Kimbrel’s night either. The hard-throwing right-hander was greeted with a solo home run from Francisco Lindor to tie the game, and he then allowed the go-ahead run to score when he spiked a fastball that got by Christian Vazquez.
Kimbrel came into Tuesday’s ninth inning with 25 saves in 28 chances while tallying a 1.24 ERA and 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He has been as close to a lock as there is in baseball, but even the greats have an off day.
And so, the Red Sox headed to the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by one. But Vazquez made sure to return the favor for every time Sale and Kimbrel had carried the ball club.
The Red Sox catcher launched a three-run, walk-off home run with two outs in the ninth inning to give Boston a 12-10 victory.
“Our offense picked them up,” Farrell said, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “So many times they’ve been in the spot where they, individually and collectively, have picked us up, this was one night that on the flip side, we paid them back.”
For the first time all season, both Sale and Kimbrel stumbled, paving the way for the Red Sox to save the heroes that have saved them so many times this season. And Vazquez orchestrated a well-deserved rescue when he sent a Cody Allen fastball deep into the Boston night.
Here are more notes from Red Sox vs. Indians.
— Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly threw batting practice Monday and is scheduled to throw a one-inning rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. Farrell told reporters the Red Sox are hopeful the right-hander can be activated this weekend.
— In other bullpen news, right-hander Carson Smith will face hitters Thursday and then is expected to head out on his rehab assignment.
— Catcher Sandy Leon banged his right knee on his acrobatic game-winning slide Saturday night. Leon told reporters he is 70-80 percent and will rest it for the next few days.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images