After a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox and an off day on Monday, the Red Sox kicked things off against the third place Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. Chris Sale, coming off his worst start of the season last Tuesday, made the start and he was matched up against Rays righty Austin Pruitt. Maybe it’s because Chris Sale is out-of-this-world good or the fact that Pruitt is not well-known, but this game did not really feel like a pitcher’s duel even though it was. At no point in this game did it look like Chris Sale was about to give in. It wasn’t until there was one out in the fifth when the Rays got their first hit, a single, off of Sale. The southpaw faced 28 batters total over the eight innings he pitched, and he struck out 13 of them. If I did the math correctly, Sale’s K/9 now stands at 12.8, so for every nine innings the guy pitched, he’s essentially striking out thirteen guys. Back in 2001, Randy Johnson set the record for K/9 at 13.4. With just less than two months to go in the season, I’d say that record is within Sale’s reach if he keeps striking out batters the way he has this year.
With a two-run lead going onto the bottom of the ninth, Craig Kimbrel was inserted into the game to secure the win. In typical fashion, Kimbrel struck out the side, reaching 90 strikeouts on the season and notching his 28th save of the season.
Like I said, this was kind of a pitchers duel, so the bats weren’t doing much. Dustin Pedroia, fresh off the 10-Day DL, scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Rafael Devers in the fourth inning. Later on in the ninth, Xander Bogaerts scored a very important insurance run on an RBI single off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. Although he did not score or drive in a run, Eduardo Nunez continued his dominance with the Red Sox by recording three hits in five at bats and raising his BA to .422 in the ten games since he was traded to Boston.
The winning streak now stands at a season-high seven games. The Yankees lost last night, so the division lead now stands at four games. One more in Tampa later today, Rick Porcello will be making the start, and he was great last time he pitched at the Trop.
64 down, ? to go.