Chris Sale is back, and he’s looking a lot like his old self.
The Red Sox ace, in his first outing in two years due to March 2020 Tommy John surgery, allowed just two runs Saturday as Boston handed the Baltimore Orioles a 16-2 beatdown at Fenway Park.
Sale was sharp from the start and only stumbled in one inning, throwing 89 pitches across five innings to secure the winning decision. The offense, meanwhile tortured the Orioles’ underwhelming pitching staff, hitting five homers in the victory.
The Red Sox climb to 68-51 with the win. The Orioles fell to 38-77 with the loss.
Here’s how it all went down.
GAME IN A WORD
Could it be anything else?
ON THE BUMP
— Sale was dialed in, mowing through the Orioles lineup with relative ease, save for one inning. He finished his five innings of work throwing 89 pitches, allowing two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and no walks.
Sale cruised through the first two innings, allowing an infield single in the first and pitching a 1-2-3 second, striking out three across the two frames.
He wandered into some adversity in the third. The southpaw looked like he would get through the inning without issue, but gave up a moonshot to Austin Hays in a full count to cut the deficit to 6-1.
The next hitter, Trey Mancini, had a similar plate appearance, blasting a solo shot of his own just over the wall in dead center.
Sale allowed a double in an otherwise clean fourth, then avoided danger in the fifth.
Richie Martin hit a leadoff single, then Austin Wynns had a base knock of his own to right. Martin tried to go from first to third on the hit, and he made it successfully just ahead of Hunter Renfroe’s throw. However, he came off the bag after sliding, and Rafael Devers had the presence of mind to tag him. After a brief review, Martin was called out.
That allowed for Sale to buckle down and finish his outing strong, getting Hays to strike out and Mancini to ground out to finish the fifth and his outing.
— Hirokazu Sawamura took over in the sixth and allowed a single and walk in a scoreless inning.
— Austin Davis pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, striking out a pair.
— Martín Pérez put the finishing touches on the win by retiring the side in order in the ninth, striking out one.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— Sale got run support early and often.
Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo led the first off with singles, then Xander Bogaerts loaded the bases getting hit by a pitch. Hernández came home during the next at-bat on a wild pitch, and Rafael Devers proceeded to launch a tape-measure home run into the right field bleachers for a quick 4-0 lead.
— Boston continued adding in the second, with Hernández roping a two-out double to left, then coming home on a Verdugo base knock, which upped the advantage to 5-0.
Bogaerts followed that up with a two-bagger of his own to plate Verdugo and make it 6-0 through two.
— The Red Sox were held quiet in the third, but returned to scoring in the fourth.
Hernández was hit by a pitch with one out, then Verdugo and Bogaerts hit consecutive singles. That brought up Devers, who added his fourth RBI of the day with a single to left, furthering Boston’s lead to 7-2.
— The offensive train kept rolling in the fifth.
Renfroe worked a leadoff walk, and proceeded to come home on a Jarren Duran triple to the triangle. The next hitter, Bobby Dalbec, kept his run of good offensive form going with a missile of a homer to left that upped the lead to 10-2.
That was far from it in the sixth, as Hernández walked, then Verdugo singled. So too did Bogaerts, who drove in Hernandez to make it 11-2. Two batters later, Martinez blasted a three-run homer, turning the game into a 14-2 laugher.
— Dalbec hit another solo shot in the sixth.
— So as not to exhaust their bullpen, the Orioles put Wynn in to pitch the eighth, and Renfroe decided to hit a bomb into left-center.
— Verdugo led the Red Sox with four hits, while Bogaerts had three.
— Hernández, Devers, Martinez and Dalbec had two hits a piece.
— Renfroe and Duran each had one hit.
— Christian Vázquez went hitless, as did Franchy Cordero in his lone at-bat.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Yep, he’s back.
The Red Sox and Orioles will finish their three-game set with a Sunday matinee. Eduardo Rodriguez will be on the mound for Boston and will be opposed by Keegan Akin. First pitch from Fenway Park is set for 1:10 p.m. ET on NESN, with pregame coverage beginning at noon.