Three steps forward, one step back for the Boston Red Sox.
Despite having an early 2-0 lead and Chris Sale on the mound, the Red Sox suffered a 7-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday in Game 1 of their day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park. Sale gave up two runs while striking out 10 over five innings.
Boston’s bullpen took over with the game tied, but Alex Cora’s relievers gave up five runs in four ugly innings of work.
The Red Sox offense, which mustered just five hits, was led by Mookie Betts (1-for-4 with two RBIs) and Xander Bogaerts (2-for-4 with two solo homers).
Boston fell to 9-14 with the loss, while the Tigers climbed to 11-10 with the win.
Here’s how it all went down:
GAME IN A WORD
The Red Sox squandered a strong start by Sale, two home runs from Bogaerts and a matchup with a bad team by dropping the first game of a four-game set.
ON THE BUMP
— Given how objectively terrible Sale was in his first four starts — 0-4, 8.50 ERA entering Tuesday — anything near decent would’ve been considered an improvement. Thankfully, the star left-hander turned in his best start of the season.
Sale pitched well in getting a no decision, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out 10 over five innings. The 10 strikeouts were a season-high for Boston’s ace.
Despite racking up 10 K’s and showcasing improved velocity — regularly between 93-96 mph on his fastball — Sale was far from perfect. He needed 97 pitches to get through five innings, and still had command issues that resulted in some hard-hit balls by hitters on the worst offense in the majors.
The two runs charged to Sale came on a two-out RBI double by Ronny Rodriguez in the fourth inning and a one-out solo homer by Grayson Greiner in the fifth.
All told, it’s hard to be anything other than encouraged by Sale’s outing. No, he’s not back to his ace-like form, but he’s awfully close.
— Heath Hembree took over in the six and gave up a home run to Rodriguez, a hit and a walk before exiting with two outs.
— Tyler Thornburg finished the sixth with a strikeout and pitched a perfect seventh, including another K, in his first outing since April 15.
— Colten Brewer got the ball in the eighth and got absolutely lit up.
The right-hander began the inning by walking Nick Goodrum before getting Dustin Peterson to fly out. Brewer then gave up a double to Rodriguez, a two-run double to Josh Harrison and an RBI single to Greiner before inducing an inning-ending double play.
— Bobby Poyner gave up a run on two hits and a walk in the ninth inning. It was the first appearance of the season for the left-hander.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— It was another frustratingly quiet Fenway performance by the Red Sox bats.
— Betts drove in two runs with a two-out single in the third, giving the Red Sox an early lead.
— Bogaerts tied the game at 3-3 in sixth with a solo homer, his third of the season. The Boston shortstop blasted his fourth homer of the season in the ninth to make it a 7-4 game.
— Tzu-Wei Lin and Rafael Devers were the only other Red Sox players with hits.
— Michael Chavis finished 0-for-4 in his Fenway debut.
— Boston finished with just five hits on the afternoon and stranded 13 runners on base.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Win or lose, it was going to be a memorable day for Chavis.
The Red Sox and Tigers will meet in Game 2 of their doubleheader Tuesday night. First pitch at Fenway Park is scheduled 7:10 p.m. ET.