It’s a good thing the Major League Baseball season is 162 games, because that leaves little room to overreact to what happened Thursday night in Seattle.
The Boston Red Sox were smacked 12-4 by the Mariners on Opening Day. More concerning than just the final score though is that Sox ace Chris Sale simply was pounded, surrendering seven runs over three innings on six hits with two walks, four strikeouts and three home runs.
After the first inning, Sale struggled mightily with both command and velocity. His fastball velocity went from 92.7 mph in the first inning to 91.8 in the second and 91.9 in the third, and he was all over the place with his pitches, mainly his fastball and slider.
After the game, Sale didn’t exactly mince words.
“Our guys put us in a pretty good situation early in the game to succeed, to help us win,” Sale said, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage, “I personally did everything I could to mess that up.
“Just couldn’t keep the ball in the ballpark and command was pretty bad.”
Sale did make clear that he felt healthy and did feel fine during warmups.
It’s understandable to wonder if a limited spring training for Sale, who tossed just nine Grapefruit League innings, played a role in the slow start, but he wasn’t buying that. And, of course, that decision to hold him and the other starters back was to preserve them after a long postseason run in 2018.
Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Red Sox-Mariners game:
— It wasn’t a banner night for any Red Sox pitchers.
Hector Velazquez gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits with a pair of strikeouts and a home run over 2 1/3 innings, while Heath Hembree walked in a run and struck out one in 2/3 innings of work. Tyler Thornburg surrendered a pair of runs on as many hits with a strikeout and a home run.
Brian Johnson did have a decent outing though, walking one and striking out one in a hitless, scoreless eighth.
While a hefty amount of the onus obviously falls on Red Sox pitchers, to a degree the proverbial cap must be tipped to the Mariners. They put together quality at-bats all game and punished even the slightest mistakes.
— There was a brief scare in the sixth inning with Rafael Devers.
During the third baseman’s at-bat in the top half of the frame, he swung at a pitch and missed, and the ball connected with his elbow. Devers jumped around for a bit before crouching down in pain for a moment, getting the attention of Cora and a team trainer.
Devers eventually popped back up and finished the at-bat, and after the game Cora said Devers was fine.
— The Red Sox’s performance Thursday made a little history, and not in a good way.
That was the most runs the defending World Series champions allowed in the following season’s opener.